CAMERA SHOWS KURSK WAS DESTROYED BY ITS OWN TORPEDOES

Subject: CAMERA SHOWS KURSK WAS DESTROYED BY ITS OWN TORPEDOES
 
Story Filed: Tuesday, July 24, 2001 9:18 AM EST

Moscow, Jul 24, 2001 (EFE via COMTEX) -- Graphic images from the camera on an undersea robot make it clear that the Russian Navy sub Kursk sank a year ago when its own torpedoes exploded, scuppering official suggestions that it
may have collided with a foreign spy vessel.

"There's no conceivable doubt about it," said Arkady Yefanov, the former skipper of the Kursk's sister sub, the Smolensk, after examining two minutes of newly declassified footage. "She sunk when all her own torpedoes detonated."

All 118 hands were lost on August 12, 2000 when the Kursk plunged to the bottom of the North Sea during maneuvers, and the images show that the bow of the vessel was blown wide open by extremely powerful explosions from inside the craft.

The bridge and conning tower were virtually intact, and the sub's level position on the seabed is further proof that no collision with a foreign vessel or an undersea mine left over from World War II had taken place.

Russian officials had steadfastly maintained the explosion's "likely" cause was a collision with another sub or NATO surface reconnaissance vessel that was spying on the exercises and came recklessly close.

A scrawled note of farewell found on the body of one of the officers indicated that 23 crewmembers were given a few extra hours of life in a sealed off compartment, while the sub rested on the sea bed 108 meters down, but the note's contents were never made public.

Divers retrieved 12 of the bodies but had to abandon their efforts to recover all the cryptographic, control and communications devices the Russians would not care to see fall into the hands of salvagers from other countries.

Teams of divers and specialized undersea recovery vessels have been preparing to make a new effort to refloat the craft sometime before September 20th, 2001.