Konstantin Getmansky Izvestia (Moscow), July 27, 2002, p. 2

According to General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov, the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk was caused by an explosion of a torpedo inside the fourth launcher. But an expert says that an explosion of components of the torpedo could have been caused only by an external factor.

On July 26, General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov reported to the president on results of the legal proceedings instituted on the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk. According to the report, “the submarine sunk because of an explosion of a torpedo; no one is guilty of the catastrophe of the submarine.” After the meeting with the president, Ustinov told journalists how the crew of the submarine was dying and showed them fragments of the torpedo. He also noted that half of the 113 volumes of the case of the Kursk contain state secrets. Investigators found out that the explosion took place on August 12, 2000, at 11:28 a.m. in the Barents Sea after the explosion of a 65-76A torpedo inside the fourth torpedo launcher. No extraordinary situations had been registered on board of the submarine before the catastrophe. The sailors were preparing for shooting exercises, and the submarine was moving at the depth of about 20 meters. The first explosion caused the deaths of the personnel of the first compartment and considerable destructions in the board gap of the submarine. Besides, it completely destroyed the fourth torpedo launcher. The second explosion took place at 11:30:44. This explosion completely destroyed the prow and caused the deaths of the sailors whose bodies were later surfaces from the compartments No. 2,3,4,5, and 5-bis. The submarine sunk at the depth of 110 meters. All sailors died of poisoning with carbon monoxide in no later than eight hours after the explosion. Ustinov stressed that it was impossible to rescue them at the moment when the submarine was found.

Investigators came to the conclusion that “people who participated in designing, producing, storing, preparation, and using the 65-76A torpedo No. 1336A PV did not foresee a possibility of its explosion the caused the destruction of the submarine and the death of its crew and did not have an opportunity to foresee such events under the circumstances of the case.” Therefore, the proceedings have been closed because of the absence of a corpus delicti.

Ustinov noted in the end that the infractions in the organization and conduction of exercises of the Northern Fleet and the salvage operation did not cause the sinking of the Kursk either. Meanwhile, Stanislav Proshkin, Director of the Gidropribor Scientific Research Institute that designed and produced the torpedo, announced to Interfax on July 26 that an explosion of components of the torpedo could have been caused only by an external factor. He said, “Some facts tell that it could be a local fire.”