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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Nuclear-powered Submarine Cruiser of the Project 949A (NATO codename OSCAR-II) K-141 (Kursk) was designed by Rubin Central Design Bureau, principal designer I. L. Baranov. She was laid down in 1992 at Sevmashpredpriyatiye (Severodvinsk) [image just below], launched in 1994 and commissioned in 1995. Assigned to 7-th SSGN Division of 1-st Submarine Flotilla of the Northern Fleet. Home base: Vidiayevo settlement in Ura-guba bay.
She was intended for fight against enemy aircraft carrier groups and capable to deliver a massive missile blows from submersible position at long ranges and with a selective target hit.
Displacement: 14700 t surfaced, 24000 t submerged. Length 155 m, beam 18.2 m, draught 9.2 m. Full speed: more then 30 knots. Nuclear main propulsion: two OK-6506 reactors (2x190 MW), two OK-9 turbines (2x49000 hp), 4 turbo generators (4x3200 KW), 2 Diesel generators (190 KW). 2 propellers. Double-hull construction, 10 watertight compartments (I - torpedo, II - Control Room, III - electric panels, Radio Room, IV - quarters, V and V-bis - different stations, VI - reactor, VII and VIII - turbines, IX - electric motors). Complement: 107 men (including 48 officers). rescue devices: emerging camera for all crew (in outer conning tower), personal dive-suits, emergency&signal buoy. Emergence hatches are situated in I-st and IX-th compartments. Reserve of buoyancy: 30% (4.5 t water).
Weapons: 24 cruise missiles P-700 ("Granit") with conventional or nuclear warheads. 4x650-mm and 2x533-mm torpedo tubes with 28 torpedoes or ASW rockets. "Molniya-M" communicational complex, "Medveditsa-949M" Navigation system, "Tobol" Radar station, "Skat-3" Sonar station, "Antey" combat command system.
Coast: 226'000'000 Russian rubles.
KURSK leaved base on 10.08.2000 at 10:00 to the exercises in Barents sea under a command of the captain 1 rank Gennadiy P. Liachin with 118 men aboard (111 crew's members, 5 officers of 7-th SSGN Division headquarters and 2 designers). Shortly before the crew won a rank of the best submarine crew of Northern fleet. The last message from her was at 08:51 a.m. of 12.08.2000: the submarine had requested permission on educational torpedo launch and received "Dobro" ("Good"). The main target of torpedo attack surface ships group leading by Heavy Nuclear Missile Cruiser PETR VELIKIY. The group moved by SO course at distance about 30 miles from KURSK. Radio message of the results of torpedo launch had to appear at 23:00.
According to information of NORSAR (Norwegian seismic array) service, there were two explosions detected in approximately point 69o38'N 37o19'E on August 12, 2000, morning. First explosion was at 11:29:34 (Moscow time) and had magnitude of 1.5 on the Richter scale (corresponding about 100 kg of explosives), and second -- at 11:31:48 (3.5 numbers). The similar data are obtained by seismic stations of Canada and Alaska. Also, two American submarines (USS MEMPHIS and USS TOLEDO) and one British submarine (HMS SPLENDID) shadowed on the exercises, registered two underwater explosions. One Russian submarine and cruiser PETR VELIKIY detected these explosions too. Besides, Minister of Defence of Russian Federation said, that the Russian submarine fixed as well the third explosion at 11:44. Moreover the American sub detected the noise during the interval between two explosions. They recognized it as ballast tanks blowing or increasing of propeller speed. Exercises were shadowed by intelligence ships USS LOYAL (U.S.A.) and MARJATA (Norway) too. The submarine went about 400 m during the time between explosions.
According to information received from miscellaneous sources, SSGN KURSK either returned to base or executed educational torpedo launching at the moment of disaster. The submarine wrecked in a point 69o40'N 37o35'E and lied on oozy&sand ground on depth of 108 m with heel 25 degrees on port side and down 5-7 degrees by the bow. As times goes by, the submarine became covered more and more by slurry. Her heel increased for some time but stop now. The reactor is in the suppressed state. Temperature of water on depth of 100 m - 3-4 degrees of Celsius, on a surface - 7-8 degrees.
KURSK tragedy caused a huge resonance in the world. In the evening 14 of August and morining 15 of August, Canada, France, German, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United States of America and other countries suggested their assistance. Since August 17, the conciliatory commission is working in Bruxelles to solve problems of technical compliance and other organizational questions.
The Governmental commission under the chairmanship of vice-premier Ilya Klebanov was created on August 14 for investigation of causes and circumstances of the wreck. "Right" groups in State Duma insisted on organizing the independed parliamentary investigation, but according to results of voting of September 15, it was decided only to make a request to President for inscribing the parliamentarians in Governmental Commission.
There are many versions were discussed, including fabulous:
The fact, that the boat had rather high parameters of vitality and that the crew was not able to use one of the many rescue or communication devices, testifies, that the damages of KURSK are very significant, and evolution of emergency situation was very fast.
The first meeting of the Governmental commission was held on August 17 in the evening. At the same time the official version of disaster was declared. After more precise definition of August 19 and 20 it looks in the following way. The Commission is considering 3 reasons:
Foreign experts, American, English, Norwegian, basically, adhere to the version of explosion in 1-st compartment. Probably, they consider, there was a detonation of ASW rocket during the launching from torpedo tube: at first a propellant, then - warhead had blown up. The tests of upgraded VA-111 ("Shkval") torpedo with a rocket propulsion are supposed to conduct on the submarine. It explains the presence onboard of two experts of "Dagdizel" military plant. The aforesaid modernization is supposed to be replacement of hard fuel on cheaper, but explosion-dangerous liquid one. The version is founded on the analysis of audio signals obtained USS MEMPHIS and the NORSAR Service. Besides the pieces of information on the upgraded torpedo trials are infiltrating from high officers' circles of Northern Fleet, and also from the "Sevmashpredpriyatiye" workers. The version is rejected categorically by the "Dagdizel" director and Governmental commission, however their proofs were not presented to wide public. The official comment concerning presence of the civil experts: overseeing on working of new accumulator battery in usual torpedo.
There is a third version under frequent discussion: one of PETR VELIKIY officers, Captain 1st Rank Sergey Ovcharenko, told for Zhizn' newspaper (31.10.2000), that the Cruiser made some trials of ASW weapon at that time in violation of exercises rules. He and his friends saw the unusual huge explosions of "Vodopad" ASW rocket at 11:30 and decided they hit American sub. But it was known later KURSK had been sunk.
On August 18, USS MEMPHIS came to Bergen (Norway). At that day American Embassy arranged a photo-session at the Haakonsvern Naval base for journalists including Russian. The sub was not damaged. But the Russian satellite photo of Norwegian naval base with LOS ANGELES-type submarine was published on November 4. The submarine has some suspect formation at her bow. Earlier American Ministry of Defence declined the Russian parliamentarians request of external examination of American submarines.
On August 24, Russian Main Office of Military Prosecutor instituted proceedings against the culprits of collision according to clause 263.3 of Criminal Code ("violation of safety traffic regulations on railway, air or water lines, entailed, on carelessness, death of two or more persons"). Guilty are threatened from 4 till 10 years imprisonment. It is supposed to use space snapshots of Russian Ballistic Missile Forces for ascertaining the vessel collided with the submarine. All ships had been to that region were inspected.
The body retrieving operation held from October 20 till November 7 rendered new data, which make collision version more probably. There are typical dent and scratches on starboard at I and II-nd compartments. But these data are not sufficient for assurance of 100%, and new investigations are expected.
The damages and inspections the submarine
For the first days of disaster there were no data concerning the state of affairs on board, but that in stern compartments there were survived men, giving the distress signals, sending information about gradual flooding and request on oxygen supply. Communication with them was lost on August 15. Later Commander of Northern Fleet stated, that these knockings belonged to foreign sub, and it was just the cause the signals were not recognized. It have been known later, that crew of VI, VII and VIII-th compartments (23 men) transferred to IX-th compartment, and about ignition in IX-th compartment. Dying note of one of perished submariners testifies, that men were still alive for some hours. It was not known the resources of electric power, oxygen, compressed air in the first time after the accident. It was not known, what ship devices send out of operation, what were speed and order of flooding of compartments. In opinion of Northern Fleet Headquarters (which had been told on August 19 only), bow compartments (at least 4-5) were flooded immediately, and in stern compartments water leaked either through depressurized stern-tube glands, or defective bulkheads. It resulted that the air bubbles with high pressure were arisen in compartments.
As a result of outboard investigation conducted by deep submergence vehicles on August 14-15, the considerable damages in 1-st and 2-nd bow compartments was revealed (hole, hull crack, some inner items around). Conning tower and emerging camera are damaged too, and also one cover of missile trunk was torn off. Characteristic damages of conning tower, bended telescopic devices and hole with edges, concave inside. The further researches went slowly, as all efforts were directed on saving of crew. Observations in night August 16/17 brought proofs, that the Submarine wrecked after the collision: characteristic damages of conning tower, bended telescopic devices and hole with edges, concave inside.
The investigations of August 20 have shown, that to this time all compartments are flooded, the people can remain only in enclosures or air bubbles. The air lock in IX-th a compartment flooded, and the hatch is damaged. Bow compartments are strongly destroyed, and all submarine hull --- distorted.
Onboard temperature decreased slowly and by August 16-17, came to 8-10 degrees of Celsius. Only V - VIII compartments were exceptions: they cooled down more slowly because of nuclear reactor afterheat (deadened reactor, having remained without refrigeration, raises temperature in a compartment till 60-70 degrees for the first time).
There were no nuclear weapons onboard. Meterings of a radiation in an air lock of IX compartment, conducted at 12:30 on August 21, have shown, that it is absolutely normal. At the present day MARS hydrographic survey ship remains at tragedy place for permanent radiation inspection. Also, Norwegian helicopter takes a samples of water here daily. Radiation is normal. The radiation control is conducted by Kurchatov Institute Russian Research Centre. The special scientific expedition of September 21-22 took samples of water close to submarine's hull, but did not discovered the radiation beyond background. In the near future the dosimeters will be mounted on the submarine hull around reactor compartment.
On September 8, DSRV AS-34 from MIKHAIL RUDNITSKIY made a number of divings to KURSK again. Main purpose was setting the buoys and radioactivity level measuring.
On September 14, the Norwegian Northern Fleet got the results from lab-tests of gas samples taken in IX-th compartment and done by the NUI (Norwegian Underwater Intervention) company. It is already clear that nobody could live in the gas: the oxygen were too low and carbonmonoxid on lethal level. It was more carbondioxid than people can make, which supports the theory of fire and/or explosion.
Deep research vehicles MIR-1 and MIR-2 were carried out the investigation of KURSK during September 25-30. They have conveyed by research ship of Academy of Science of Russia AKADEMIK MSTISLAV KELDYSH. A lot of debris were lifted up during 10 divings, but there were no any fragments of foreign submarine among them, in spite of the fact that area of 60 sq. miles was inspected. The investigation confirmed the fact of two explosions with 135 sec interval between them. During this time the submarine went about 400 m.
The investigation of IX-th compartment showed the tracks of ignition. But, probably, it was local ignition, because one of four bodies recovered on October 25 was not touched by fire. The investigation of III-rd compartment (November 2) revealed the huge ruins there, including some units thrown from II-nd compartment. Some records and logs is reported to be taken from IV-th compartment as well, but their content is not making public. Furthermore, there were obtained videoshots, which allow to point the collision as likely version. There are typical dent and scratches on starboard at I and II-nd compartments. But these data are not sufficient and new expedition of AKADEMIK KELDYSH is expected soon to collect more information.
For the time present (early November) hydrographic survey ship GORIZONT remains on wreck place to radiation control measurings.
Rescue operation daily
Being worried on account of explosions, the Northern Fleet Headquarters send at 17:30 the radio message to KURSK: "Report your co-ordinates and operations". After determined reply time had elapsed, at 23:30 the Fleet Emergency alarm was declared and the search forces were directed immediately to area of submarine's alleged occurrence. Two Il-38 searching aircraft (commanders -- lieutenant colonels Dergunov and Dovzhenko) detected the oil spot and, according to untested data, also emergency buoys and foreign submarine running at 5-knots speed. Furthermore two foreign P-3 Orion aircrafts were detected at disaster area. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Norwegian authorities on fact of accident with the nuclear-powered submarine in Barents sea. Late at night of August 12 the rescue ship (deep submergence vehicles carrier) MIKHAIL RUDNITSKIY arrived in this region. She left Severomorsk at 20:00 and carried two Project 1855 (PRIZ) deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRV). It was decided to salvage peoples first of all. It was supposed to do it by docking DSRV on emergency hatch in IX-th compartment, because two other hatches in I-st and III-rd compartments are inaccessible for crew.
On August 13 at 4:36 sonar station of Cruiser PETR VELIKIY found out anomaly at the seabed, which at 19:30 was authenticated as K-141. At 7:00 Minister of Defense Igor' D. Sergeyev reported to President Vladimir V. Putin on the fact of emergency, but did not recommend him to arrive on a crash scene. A salvage operation deployed in the meantime. Admiral Viacheslav A. Popov, Commander of the Northern Fleet, preside the operation from the board of his flagship, cruiser PETR VELIKIY. From 15 up to 22 vessels and about 3000 sailors of the Northern Fleet were involved in the rescue operation in total. The Northern Fleet aviation was support rescue operation actively. The group of Rubin Bureau engineers (including Project 949A principal designer) arrived in Severomorsk in Wednesday morning.
Besides at night of August 12/13 and in the morning of August 13 the submarine of Main Intelligence Department investigated the KURSK bow. At 18:00 and 18:30 were carried out the first two descents of a diving bell from ALTAY rescue ship. At 19:30 Project 1855 DSRV from MIKHAIL RUDNITSKIY discovered by sight the submarine laid on seabed. The weak knockings "SOS. Water" were heard from aboard. But this signals were "decoded" only by August 18, and, according to statements of authorities (including Ilya Klebanov) might be "the noise of any mechanism". Sea conditions were calm -- 1 Beaufort number, wind force -- up to 5 m/sec, altitude of waves -- up to 0,5 m.
On August 14 Ship crane PK-7500 with one BESTER-type DSRV appeared there. The diving bells were descended to the submarine. There were some pieces of information that salvage tug NIKOLAY CHIKER participated in early rescue operation; its deep water TV equipment could be used for obtaining the first pictures of wrecked Submarine. The first message "there were malfunctions on the submarine, therefore she was compelled to lay on a seabed in region of Northern Fleet exercises in Barents sea" was made by Navy's Press Centre at 10:45. Sea conditions was relatively calm by day -- 1-2 numbers.
N.B.: there were not any messages on rescue operation till 16:00 August 15, in mass-media. In particular, for all day of August 14 was not a word in press about salvage operation, Navy Press Centre said nothing concerning it too. In the first half of August 15 there were messages only about preparation to "active phase" of rescue operation. Moreover, the descents of DSRVs on August 15 and 16 were named "first", "second" etc. by Navy Press Centre. The course of salvage operation on August 13, 14 and morning 15 was scored for sound only by evening of August 21, mainly, in TV-interview of Minister of Defence I. Sergeyev. Especially, it was only Sergeyev who said about descents of the diving-bell at 18:00 and 18:30 on August 13, about investigation the huge damages of the submarine by deep submergence vehicle that day, about descents of "Prizes" of August 14, about his decision, that 80% of crew have lost. Being expressed in later time, all this information can be called into question.
At night on August 15 submarine's bow was inspected for the first time by deep submergence vehicle: there were obtained data about damages in bow. It was decided and reported to mass-media that two fore compartments had been flooded. However, in the morning the rescue operation was temporary stopped due to 4-5 number storm began at night. Wind force totaled 20 m/s, altitude of waves -- 4 m. Only at 20:00 when the weather had ceased up to 2-3 numbers (8 m/s wind) the attempts of diving and docking of DSRV were started by two PRIZ-type vehicles. First diving lasted from 20:00 till 5:30 (four unsuccessful docking attempts). This day the survived crew members stopped the sending the distress signals. This very day the Commander-in-Chief Vladimir N. Kuroyedov informed, that the oxygen reserves aboard will sufficient to middle of day of August 18.
On August 16 at 8:00 BESTER-type DSRV was joined them. These DSRVs tried to dock on emergency hatch, but all attempts were unsuccessful because of strong variable stream, submarine's heel and absence of co-ordination of rescuers' activity from the submarine crew. In the morning sea condition was 2-3 numbers, wind 10 m/s, but in afternoon storm became stronger (4 numbers, wind 15 m/s, waves altitude 2-3 m). Therefore one of the DSRVs was damaged due to hit against the hull of vessel. But after the night repairs it returned to operation on August 17. The situation is valued as "heavy, critical" (President V. Putin). In the evening of this day V. Putin, as Supreme Commander-in-Chief, gave an order for Navy Commander-in-Chief to accept foreign assistance.
As a reserve version of rescuing it was supposed to lift KURSK by using pontoons and band belts. However simultaneous usage of DSRVs and pontoons was inexpedient: two activities would only mutually hamper each other. The third idea was to connect to special holes cables with electric power and oxygen, but in that case good weather is necessary.
On August 17 at 12:00 Norwegian vessel NORMAND PIONEER with the English DSRV LR5 left Trondheim port (Norway). The rest ship, SEAWAY EAGLE, with deep skin-divers (employees of Stolt Offshore Company, Norway) aboard, also of started motion to disaster area. There were pieces of information, that Norwegian plant in Kirkeness received an order to manufacture the transferring device between English DSRV and Russian emergency hatch.
Since August 17, fourth DSRV involved in the operation. Attempts of 4 DSRV dockings on the emergency hatch of IX-th compartment was prolonged. However they foiled over heavy stream (till 2.5 knots), low underwater visibility and submarine's heel. In the evening the sea condition was 2-3 number, 10 m/s wind. Rescue ships MIKHAIL RUDNITSKIY, ALTAY, Project 563 (SB-365 or SB-523) and Project 712 (SB-406) seagoing tugs, Project 141 hulk, deep submergence station AS-35 (?), radiation control vessel (probably, GS-526), BCGN PETR VELIKIY, DDG ADMIRAL KHARLAMOV, fleet oiler, KARAGANDA auxiliary ship are operating in rescue area now. Heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser ADMIRAL FLOTA SOVETSKOGO SOYUZA KUZNETSOV was in 15 miles from rescue area and was ready to render the helicopters immediately. The situation aboard the submarine is valued as "nearly catastrophic" (Prime-minister M. Kasyanov), however Navy Press Centre noticed, that people aboard will be able to live till 23-25 of August, if they spare forces and oxygen.
During numerous divings of August 18-19 it was possible for 15 times to be docked to an emergency hatch, however all attempts to pump out water and to open the hatch was unsuccessful. It was connected with (as it was supposed then): 1) after striking against seabed there was a deformation of hatch coaming mirror, because of what it is impossible to dock hermetically; 2) or someone inside tried unsuccessfully to escape by air lock, and it became depressurized and was flooded. Rescuers hoped to decide this problem with the help of the divers. On August 18 the altitude of waves has decreased 1-1,5 m, the wind abates up to 5 m/s, and on August 19 calm sea established.
On August 18 the situation was valued as "supercritical" (Governmental commission chairman I. Klebanov). For the first time published data about the leaking in compartments and about the rising high-pressure air there, crossed the calculations published earlier, that air will suffice till 23-25 August. Under the message of Chief of Northern Fleet Headquarters of 17:00 August 19, "a border of crew surviving crossed on August 18-19-20". "The zero information from the submarine means, that the critical state of seamen has set in". Wide public learned about flooding not only 2-4 fore, but all compartments only from this statement. Nevertheless it was decided, that attempts to penetrate into KURSK will be prolonged with former intensity. It is necessary to salvage miracle survived or to supply perished everything, that is required to the man and Christian.
On Saturday, at 19:30 the vessel NORMAND PIONEER with the English vehicle LR5 and team of 21 rescuers, engineers and doctors arrived. The chief of team -- A. Hoskins. Also SEAWAY EAGLE with 4 Norwegian and 8 Scottish deep skin-divers aboard came at 23:00. Royal Navy officer, Сommodore David Russel, co-ordinated the activity of British rescuers, and Norwegian Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen --- Norwegian rescuers. In the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain was sure, that docking of LR5 with our submarine is technically possible. During the night activity of Russian DSRVs was prolonged, and both Norwegian ships was carrying out preparations for diving works.
On August 20 about 9:00, Norwegian TV camera was lowered to submarine. The data obtained confirm the fact of strong destruction of I-st and II-nd compartments, and also deformation of all hull. Also they have confirmed the fact of significant deformation and damage (crack) of the emergency hatch coaming plate in IX-th compartment. At 13:15 three Norwegian divers were descended in diving-bell. The knock reconnaissance showed, that, probably, all boat was flooded, and living people could remain only in enclosures and air bubbles in VII - VIII compartments. The air lock is filled by water: probably, there is a man trying to leave out unsuccessfully.
Navy's Commander-in-Chief, Fleet Admiral V. N. Kuroyedov, and Governmental commission chairman I. O. Klebanov came to rescue area in the morning for general co-ordination the actions. Later English and Norwegian rescuers charged Russian military men with deliberate impeding in their attempts to reach KURSK as soon as possible, and also with a misinformation. "From time to time, -- Vice Admiral E. Skorgen noticed for Norlanddsposten newspaper, -- The information given to the Norwegian side, was so inauthentic, that it threatened the safety of divers". In particular, strong underwater streams was not appeared, as well as poor visibility. Only after threat of termination of salvage operation Admiral V. Popov personally interfered and adjusted a problem, that two divers on the helicopter have departed on another Project 949A submarine for learning the hatch and air lock. The member of the British rescue team Paddy Heron, arriving on a place of catastrophe together with mini-sub LR5, stated, that it was repugnant to him to hear the Russian statements about that, they have done the utmost for saving KURSK. As he said, all command was severely disappointed by that Russian have discharged them from rescue operation.
That day the weather was a little spoiled, in the evening the state of the sea was 1 number. The Norwegian&Scottish divers divided into 4 crews of 3 men; each crew will work for 6 hours. During afternoon all efforts were directed on opening of the upper door of the hatch (it was decided to break it by ship's crane). During this night, till 6:00, two Norwegian divers were trained on the Russian base in Vidiayevo on similar air lock and compartment.
On Monday, August 21 at 7:45 Norwegian rescuer opened upper door of emergency hatch. There were not people in air lock. About 13:00 o'clock lower hatch of air lock also was opened. IX-th and, probably, VIII-th compartments are flooded. In IX-th compartment the body of died seaman was reported to be found (but later this information was refuted). Admirals V. Popov (Commander of Northern Fleet) and E. Skorgen (Commander of Armed Forces of Northern Norway) came to a conclusion, that all K-141 crew has perished and that the Norwegian rescuers had fulfilled their mission. At 21:00 the Military Council of Northern Fleet officially recognized fact of loss of all crew and has expressed the condolence to relatives. August 23 is declared as a day of national mourning.
NORMAND PIONEER and SEAWAY EAGLE after the onboard mourning ceremony left the place of tragedy at 14:00 August 22, as they did everything, that could. The hatch in IX compartment was battened down. On the tragedy area remained 1-2 warships of Northern Fleet for guarding, as well as hydrographic survey ship MARS.
On 21-22 of August Igor' Sergeyev, Minister of Defence, Vladimir Kuroyedov, Navy Commander-in-Chief and Viacheslav Popov, Commander of Northern Fleet sent in their resignation. President V. Putin did not accept its and noticed, that do not mean to discharge anybody without exact establishment of the fact of guilt.
Body recovering operation
Russian Federation officially applied to Norway for help in recovering of sailor's bodies and received the consent in principle. Main Russian designer and co-ordinator of these works is Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (Saint Petersburg). The main foreign partner was expected to be Norwegian Stolt Offshore Company, but finally the contract was signed with Norwegian branch of American firm Halliburton (Tananger). The contract values at $5'800'000 on period till November 18. Bodies of perished seamen will be retrieved through eight special apertures (1.5 x 0.7 m), that will be made in hull. All works will be carried out by 6 foreign and 15 Russian divers. Team of Russian divers is called "328-th expeditionary detachment of Department of searching, emergency and rescue works", commanding officer -- captain 1st rank Vasiliy Velichko. Chief of operation -- contre-admiral Gennadiy Verich. Only Russians will work inside the submarine (4-hour shifts). The works will last for about 10-18 working days. Only 25-35 bodies is expected to will be recovered. 78 crew relatives made a request to president of Russia for stopping the body-recovering operation. It will be correct to lift the bodies up together with the submarine, -- they believe. Commander-in-Chief of Russian Navy assured, that all operation would be interrupted, if any danger for lives of divers appeared.
On August 9 the international expedition sailed from Bergen on board of floating platform REGALIA, and arrived to location where KURSK is in the morning of October 20. Besides, ADMIRAL KHARLAMOV, ADMIRAL CHABANENKO (flagship of Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief and Commander of Northern Fleet) frigates, ALTAY rescue ship, SEMION DEZHNEV hydrographic survey ship are there, as well as Cruiser PETR VELIKIY (episodically). Sea condition is 2 numbers, wind -- 5 m/s, water temperature -- 6 degrees of Celsius. At that day 21:00 four Russian and two Norwegian divers descended to KURSK.
On October 21, after bleeding of air from air-mains, divers made two process apertures in outer hull at VIII-th and IX-th compartments by using sheet of high-pressured water with diamond emulsion. At the same time there were appeared the problems with removing the elastic antidrumming compound, which had been strongly glued to outer hull. The weather is going bad -- 3 numbers, gusty wind.
On October 22 external armature was removed partially, and small (12 cm in diameter) aperture in pressure hull was made. This samples of inner water taken in VIII-th compartment show absence of radioactive isotopes and fuel/lubricant oils. Sea condition -- 5 numbers, North-West wind, gusts up to 20 m/s. Ships are heaved to. During October 23 there were conducting the works on pressure hull at VII-th compartment (mounting of cutting patterns) and VIII-th compartment (more than half of aperture was cut). But till evening storm of 6 numbers (altitude of waves -- 11 m, wind -- up to 22 m/s) broke out; at 17:15 all divers stopped their works and returned to REGALIA.
The attempt of works' continuation was made at 01:42-03:15 of October 24, but only about 10:50 the operation was continued really due to bad weather. The inlet in pressure hull of VIII-th compartment for men access was made about 23:00. In the evening wind was 12 m/s, sea conditions -- 4 numbers. In the morning of October 25 edges of the inlet were processed in the proper way. At 15:01 midshipman Sergey Shmydin penetrated in the VIII-th compartment, investigated it, and opened hatch to IX-th compartment. Four bodies of perished submariners were retrieved from this compartment, lifted to REGALIA in special containers and sent to Severomorsk naval hospital, where the Laboratory of judical&medical expert examination (Unit No 1082) is deployed. Tracks of ignition were found in IX-th compartment. All this works were carried out by three Russian and one Norwegian divers. Sea conditions were 3 numbers in the evening, but by midnight and morning new storm of 5 numbers (wind -- 18 m/s) came.
On October 26 Norwegian divers started to cut new aperture in outer hull, VII-th compartment. But when dying note had been found in pocket of one of perished seamen, Captain Lieutenant Dmitriy Kolesnikov, all efforts were hurled on cutting the inlet in IX-th compartment. This note has written between 13:34 and 15:45 and addressed for relatives, but contains also a valuable information: «13:15. All crew of VI, VII and VIII compartments has gone to IX-th. There are 23 men of us there. We've taken this decision due to accident. Nobody of us can to lift upward... (This text have written plain and with the light. On the reverse side:)... 15:45. It is dark here, but I'll try to write to the touch. It looks, that there are no chances. Percents 10-20. Let us try, that anyone at all will read. There are lists of compartments' crew here, some are in IX-th and will try to escape. Greetings to all. Don't despair». It testifies too, that men went to IX-th compartment at 12:58. Moreover, I. O. Griaznov, military expert of Severomorsk laboratory, said to Zhizn' newspaper (31.10.2000), that there was found a second note in Kolesnikov's pocket. It was written on August 15 (!), contains the information concerning the disaster, and it is addressed to Fleet Command.
Later works was hampered by 6-number storm, which lasted till October 28. Only at 04:00 on that day divers was able to made aperture in outer hull. Cutting the pressure hull was being carried out by Norwegian divers on October 29. At the same time Russian divers, making use of auspicious weather conditions: 3-4 numbers on October 29 and 2-3 numbers on October 30, penetrated in IX-th compartment through VIII-th and retrieved 8 more bodies of perished submariners from there on October 29-30. In which connection the cutting of pressure hull was suspended for that time. The works inside IX-th compartment themselves became slower due to emulsive dredge dusted by divers. Eventually at 11:00 of October 31 body-searching works in IX-th compartment were stopped because divers had done everything they could. The prolongation requires operating in narrow gangways, which threatens the lives of divers.
Seven of twelve retrieved bodies were identified on November 1-2. There are: Midshipman M. A. Bochkov, Senior Midshipman A. M. Borisov, Senior Lieutenant A. V. Brazhkin, Chief ship's Petty Officer R. A. Gessler, Captain Lieutenant D. R. Kolesnikov, Seaman A. A. Korkin, Seaman R. V. Kubikov, Senior Midshipman V. V. Kuznetsov, Chief Petty Officer V. R. Maynagashev, Seaman R. V. Martynov, Captain Lieutenant S. V. Sadilenko, Captain Lieutenant R. R. Ariapov. Burial are taking place in the homeland of sailors.
It was known later about next record found on body of seaman whose name is not divulged: «There are 23 of us here, in IX-th compartment... We feel bad, poisoned by carbon monoxide during the fire... Pressure raises... We do not endure decompression during escape... We'll hold out no longer than day...». The record was written about 13:00 of August 12.
During period of October 31 -- night of November 1/2 the aperture in III-rd compartment was made. TV-camera investigation showed that compartment is heavily ruinous and there is no possibility for diving works inside. It was decided to stop any works in III-rd compartment about 19:00.
Next compartment to be examined was IV-th. Works of cutting the window in it lasted to 16:00 of November 4 with short break at night of November 2/3 due to 5-number storm. The second half of November 4 was spent on ablution the compartment from dredge, and in the morning of November 5 divers made first attempt to penetrate. But during November 5 and 6 they moved forward 1,5 -- 2 m only because of strong abatises.
On November 7, in the morning, the special meeting had held on REGALIA decided to cease the whole operation. The attempt of penetration in V-th compartment makes no sense, as bodies can locate only at lower deck, and it is impossible to reach there due to narrow hatches. Therefore divers examined the state of hull at I-st compartment and seabed around the submarine, collecting the data for future lifting. All apertures in submarine's hull were closed. After the farewell ceremony, REGALIA left the wreck place to Norway about 14:00. Nevertheless, according I. Klebanov, divers succeeded in taking "some recordings and logs" from this compartment. Their content is not making public.
The place of KURSK wreck will be guarded by Russian Navy ships. Today there are remaining cruiser PETR VELIKIY and hydrographic survey ship GORIZONT (for radiation control).
Lifting the Submarine
For the first time idea of lifting (by using pontoons and band belts) was appeared as a reserve way of crew rescuing. However simultaneous usage of DSRVs and pontoons was assured to be inexpedient: two activities would only mutually hamper each other.
On August 17, the Rubin Central Designe Bureau has initiated the development of the SSGN KURSK lifting project, which will be carried out by forces of 3-4 countries. The negotiations are carried on with Belgian firm Scaldis (Antwerp). The Russian side is expected to be represented by some research institutes of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Afrikantov Design&Experiment Bureau (Nizhny Novgorod), Russian Federal Nuclear Centre (Saratov), Academician Khlopin Radium Institute Inc. (Saint Petersburg), Malachite Maritime Engineering Bureau (Saint Petersburg), Prometey Central Research Institute of constructional materials (Saint Petersburg), Sevmash Inc. (Severodvinsk). Project's estimated value is $100'000'000. General contract will be signed in October 2000.
Final conclusion on the lifting methods was determined by Commission on August 29, but was not presented for wide public. It is known only, that the submarine will be lifted not on a surface, but will be towed to Murmansk dock. Probably this operation will carry out foreign ship with special claws. I-st compartment will be cleaned of silt, cut and lifted up separately. The winter season with strong storms in Barents sea starts at the end of September, therefore KURSK will be lifted about 2nd half of summer of 2001.
24-hour hotline for questions of bodies identification and all other questions:
Relatives arrived in Murmansk and Severomorsk are moving and accommodating in Vidiayevo settlement. The Government of Russia granted 1'500'000 rubles to seamen families for covering the consumptions on moving to Murmansk and others... The government commission under chairmanship vice-premier Valentina Matvienko was organized for rendering assistance to families of the perished seamen. According to her, every family will receive 720'000 rubles in addition to legal 120 salaries per family and 25 salaries per each family member, as well as flat in any region of Russia they wanted.
On August 22 in the evening the president V. Putin met the members of families of the perished seamen in Vidiayevo. Governments of Byelorussia and Ukraine also allocate funds to relatives. 23 of August declared as the day of national mourning in Byelorussia too. Bulgarian authorities are ready to accommodate any amount of seamen' children in Tsarevo resort free of charge.
On August 24 passenger ship KLAVDIYA YELANSKAYA came to place of K-141 wreck with crew relatives.
On October 29, 12:00 the mourning ceremony of parting with four submariners (or, according to naval tradition, reception ceremony) will be held at Severomorsk, Primorskaya and Muzhestva Squares.
Information for donors
Phone for donors in St. Petersburg (Submariners' Club, captain 1 rank Igor Kurdin): (812) 323-24-67.
Bank accounts for donors:
Moreover, for EVERY family bank accounts are opened. More information all donors can receive by phones: (095) 158-69-04, 943-91-35.
To our great regret, the distribution of collected money was bound up with scandal. Irina Liachina, widow of KURSK Commanding officer, accused in her opened letter of October 19 to Komsomol'skaya Pravda newspaper the Murmansk region comission with inexpedient expenses of donations (issuing the books, testimonial letters an so on). She left the commission of rendering assistance for crew relatives. On the other hand, Yuriy Yevdokimov, Murmansk region governor, blocked the accounts of regional comission (they are not pointed in my list) on October 24 and turned to Counting Chamber of State Duma for examination of accounts and financial operations.
(Ministry of Defence official list)
"For courage and heroism, evinced during performance of sailor's duty" KURSK commanding officer Captain 1 rank G. P. Liachin was conferred the rank of Hero of Russian Federation (post mortem) on August 26. All 117 crew's member were awarder the Courage Order and inscribed forever in lists of 7-th Division, 1-st Submarine Flotilla of the Northern Fleet.
1. Senior Midshipman Abdulkadyr M. Il'darov - leading torpedoman (Dagestan Rep.)
2. Midshipman Aleksey V. Zubov - hydroacoustic party technician (Ukraine)
3. Seaman Ivan N. Nefedkov - torpedo section commander (Sverdlovsk Reg.)
4. Seaman Maksim N. Borzhov - torpedoman (Vladimir Reg.)
5. Seaman Aleksey V. Shul'gin - bilge artificer (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
6. Senior Lieutenant Arnold Yu. Borisov - attached from OAO "Dagdizel" Plant (Dagestan Rep.)
7. Mamed I. Gadzhiyev - attached from OAO "Dagdizel" Plant (Dagestan Rep.)
7-th Submarine Division Headquarters:
1. Captain 1 rank Vladimir T. Bagriantsev - chief of 7-th Submarine Division Staff (Crimea Rep.)
2. Captain 2 rank Yuriy T. Shepetnov - missile flag officer (Crimea Rep.)
3. Captain 2 rank Viktor M. Belogun' - deputy chief of Division Engineering Service (Ukraine)
4. Captain 2 rank Vasiliy S. Isayenko - assistant chief of Division Engineering Service (Crimea Rep.)
5. Captain 3 rank Marat I. Baygarin - acting torpedo flag officer (Saint Petersburg)
6. Captain 1 rank Gennadiy P. Liachin - commanding officer (Volgograd Reg.)
7. Captain 2 rank Sergey V. Dudko - first officer (Byelorussia)
8. Captain 2 rank Aleksandr A. Shubin - upbringing officer (Crimea Rep.)
9. Captain-Lieutenant Maksim A. Safonov - navigating officer (Moscow Reg.)
10. Senior Lieutenant Sergey N. Tylik - electric navigation party commander (Murmansk Reg.)
11. Senior Lieutenant Vadim Ya Bubniv - electric navigation party engineer (Ulyanovsk Reg.)
12. Captain 3 rank Andrey B. Silogava - missile officer (Crimea Rep.)
13. Captain-Lieutenant Aleksey V. Shevchuk - commander of control party of missile department (Murmansk Reg.)
14. Senior Lieutenant Andrey V. Panarin - engineer of control party of missile department (Leningrad Reg.)
15. Senior Lieutenant Boris V. Geletin - commander of launch party of missile department (Murmansk Reg.)
16. Senior Leiutenant Sergey V. Uzkiy - commander of target designation party of missile department (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
17. Captain 2 rank Yuriy B. Sablin - engineering officer (Crimea Rep.)
18. Captain 3 rank Andrey V. Miliutin - damage-control assistant (Saint Petersburg)
19. Captain-Lieutenant Sergey S. Kokurin - commander of bilge party of damage-control division (Voronezh Reg.)
20. Midshipman Vladimir V. Khivuk - mustering technician (Kursk Reg.)
21. Captain 3 rank Aleksandr Ye. Sadkov - control officer (Amur Reg.)
22. Captain-Lieutenant Mikhail O. Rodionov - computer party commander (Crimea Rep.)
23. Senior Lieutenant Sergey N. Yerahtin - computer party engineer (Murmansk Reg.)
24. Midshipman Yakov V. Samovarov - chief of sanitary section (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
25. Senior Midshipman Aleksandr V. Ruzliov - ship's boatswain (Murmansk Reg.)
26. Midshipman Konstantin V. Kozyrev - electric navigation party first technician (Murmansk Reg.)
27. Senior Midshipman Vladimir V. Fesak - electric navigation party second technician (Ukraine)
28. Midshipman Andrey N. Polianskiy electric navigation party third technician (Krasnodar Reg.)
29. Midshipman Segrey A. Kislinskiy - technician of launch party of missile department (Kostroma Reg.)
30. Midshipman Sergey V. Griaznyh - computer party technician (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
31. Seaman Dmitriy S. Mirtov - steersman-signaller (Komi Rep.)
32. Petty Officer 2 class /under contract/ Dmitriy A. Leonov - steersmen-signallers section commander (Moscow Reg.)
33. Senior Lieutenant Maksim A. Rvanin - engineering party engineer (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
34. Seaman Andrey N. Driuchenko - electrician (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
35. Senior Lieutenant Aleksey A. Ivanov-Pavlov - torpedo officer (Ukraine)
36. Midshipman Viktor A. Paramonenko - hydroacoustic party technician (Ukraine)
1. Captain-Lieutenant Dmitriy A. Repnikov - assistant commanding officer (Crimea Rep.)
2. Captain 3 rank Andrey A. Rudakov - signal officer (Moscow Reg.)
3. Captain-Lieutenant Sergey G. Fiterer - space communication party commander (Kaliningrad Reg.)
4. Captain-Lieutenant Oleg I. Nosikovskiy - classified automatic communication party commander (Kaliningrad Reg.)
5. Captain-Lieutenant Vitaliy M. Solorev - commander of equipment party of damage-control division (Bryansk Reg.)
6. Captain-Lieutenant Sergey N. Loginov - hydroacoustic party commander (Ukraine)
7. Captain-Lieutenant Andrey V. Koroviakov - hydroacoustic party first engineer (Saint Petersburg)
8. Captain-Lieutenant Aleksey V. Korobkov - hydroacoustic party second engineer (Murmansk Reg.)
9. Captain-Lieutenant Aleksandr V. Gudkov - radio intelligence party commander (Kaliningrad Reg.)
10. Captain 3 rank Viacheslav A. Bezsokirnyy - chief of chemical service (Ukraine)
11. Senior Midshipman Igor' V. Yerasov - crypto operator (Voronezh Reg.)
12. Senior Midshipman Vladimir V. Svechkariov - telegraphy operator of classified automatic communication (Nizhny Novgorod Reg.)
13. Senior Midshipman Sergey A. Kalinin - telegraphy operator of classified automatic communication, missile department (Ukraine)
14. Senior Midshipman Igor' V. Fedorichev - control department technician (Tula Reg.)
15. Midshipman Maksim I. Vishniakov - target designation party technician (Ukraine)
16. Midshipman Segrey S. Chernyshov - space communication party technician (Crimea Rep.)
17. Midshipman Mikhail A. Belov - hydroacoustic party technician (Nizhny Novgorod Reg.)
18. Midshipman Pavel V. Tavolzhanskiy - hydroacoustic party technician (Belgorod Reg.)
19. Senior Midshipman Sergey B. Vlasov - radio intelligence party technician (Murmansk Reg.)
20. Midshipman Sergey A. Rychkov - chemical service technician (Uzbekistan)
21. Petty Officer 2 class /under contract/ Yuriy A. Annenkov - missile department mechanician (Kursk Reg.)
22. Seaman Dmitriy A. Kotkov - missile department mechanician (Vologda Reg.)
23. Dubbing Seaman Nikolay V. Pavlov - missile department mechanician (Voronezh Reg.)
24. Seaman Ruslan V. Trianichev - bilge artificer (Vologda Reg.)
1. Senior Lieutenant Denis S. Kirichenko - damage-control engineer (Ulyanovsk Reg.)
2. Captain of Medical service Aleksey B. Stankevich - medical officer (Ukraine, Saint Petersburg)
3. Midshipman Vitaliy F. Romaniuk - surgeon's assistant (Crimea Rep.)
4. Senior Midshipman Vasiliy V. Kichkiruk - head of sanitary team (Ukraine)
5. Senior Midshipman Anatoliy N. Beliayev - ship's cook (instructor) (Ryazan Reg.)
6. Chief ship's Petty Officer /under contract/ Salovat V. Yasapov - cook (instructor) (Bashkortostan Rep.)
7. Seaman Sergey A. Vitchenko - cook (Leningrad Reg.)
8. Seaman Oleg V. Yevdokimov - cook (Kursk Reg.)
9. Seaman Dmitry V. Starosel'tsev - bilge seaman (Kursk Reg.)
10. Seaman Aleksandr V. Halepo - turbine stand-by operator (Komi Rep.)
11. Seaman Aleksey Yu. Kolomeytsev - turbine stand-by operator (Komi Rep.)
12. Seaman Igor' V. Loginov - turbine stand-by operator (Komi Rep.)
1. Captain 3 rank Dmitriy B. Murachiov - party commander of main propulsion division (Crimea Rep.)
2. Captain-Lieutenant Denis S. Pshenichnikov - commander of remote control party (first) (Crimea Rep.)
3. Captain-Lieutenant Sergey N. Liubushkin - commander of remote control party (second) (Nizhny Novgorod Reg.)
4. Captain 3 rank Ilya V. Shchavinskiy - engineering division commander (Saint Petersburg)
5. Captain-Lieutenant Aleksandr Ye. Vasilyev - commander of equipment party of main propulsion division (Crimea Rep.)
6. Captain 3 rank Nikolay A. Beloziorov - engineering party commander (Voronezh Reg.)
7. Senior Midshipman Ivan I. Tsymbal - technician-electrician (Ukraine)
8. Midshipman Oleg V. Troyan - chemical service technician (Azerbaijan)
9. Chief Petty Officer /under contract/ Aleksandr V. Neustroyev - electrician (Tomsk Reg.)
10. Seaman Aleksey A. Larionov - bilge seaman (Komi Rep.)
11. Midshipman Vladimir G. Shablatov - technician-electrician (Mari El Rep.)
1. Senior Lieutenant Vitaliy Ye. Kuznetsov - engineering party engineer (first) (Novgorod Reg.)
2. Senior Midshipman Nail' Kh. Khafizov - leading instructor of chemical service (Bashkortostan Rep.)
3. Senior Midshipman Yevgeniy Yu. Gorbunov - diesel operator (Nizhny Novgorod reg.)
4. Midshipman Valeriy A. Baybarin - head of bilge team of damage-control division (Chelyabinsk Reg.)
1. Captain-Lieutenant Rashid R. Ariapov - main propulsion assistant (Uzbekistan)
2. Midshipman Aleksey G. Balanov - head of bilge team of main propulsion division (Chuvash Rep.)
3. Senior Lieutenant Aleksey V. Mitiayev - engineer of equipment party of main propulsion division (Saint Petersburg)
4. Chief Petty Officer /under contract/ Viacheslav V. Maynagashev - bilge specialist (Khakass Rep.)
5. Seaman Aleksey A. Korkin - bilge specialist (Arkhangelsk Reg.)
1. Captain-Lieutenant Dmitriy R. Kolesnikov - commander of technical party of main propulsion division (Saint Petersburg)
2. Midshipman Fanis M. Ishmuradov - technical party technician (Bashkortostan Rep.)
3. Petty Officer 2 class /under contract/ Vladimir S. Sadovoy - turbine section commander (Nizhny Novgorod Reg.)
4. Seaman Roman V. Kubikov - turbine operator (Kursk Reg.)
5. Seaman Aleksey N. Nekrasov - turbine operator (Kursk Reg.)
6. Petty Officer 1 class /under contract/ Reshid R. Zubaydullin - electrician (Ulyanovsk Reg.)
7. Seaman Ilya S. Naliotov - turbine operator (Vologda Reg.)
8. Petty Officer 2 class /under contract/ Roman V. Anikiyev - turbine operator (Murmansk Reg.)
9. Senior Midshipman Vladimir A. Kozadiorov - technician & turbine operator (Lipetsk Reg.)
1. Captain-Lieutenant Sergey V. Sadilenko - engineer (first) of remote control party, navigator's department (Ukraine)
2. Senior Midshipman Viktor V. Kuznetsov - turbine operator mate (Kursk Reg.)
3. Chief ship's Petty Officer /under contract/ Robert A. Gessler - turbine section commander (Bashkortostan Rep.)
4. Senior Midshipman Andrey M. Borisov - technician of equipment party of main propulsion division (Ryazan Rep.)
5. Seaman Roman V. Martynov - turbine operator (Komi Rep.)
6. Seaman Viktor Yu. Sidiuhin - turbine operator (Komi Rep.)
7. Seaman Yuriy A. Borisov - turbine operator (Komi Rep.)
1. Senior Lieutenant Aleksandr V. Brazhkin - engineer (second) of remote control party (Crimea Rep.)
2. Midshipman Vasiliy E. Ivanov - head of electricians' team (Mari El Rep.)
3. Midshipman Mikhail A. Bochkov - technician of bilge party of damage-control division (Crimea Rep.).