NSL Update 12-04-01
President Will Inaugurate New Nuclear Submarine
Moscow Times, December 4, 2001
By Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
President Vladimir Putin said Monday he would visit a northern shipyard to inaugurate a new nuclear submarine -- a trip apparently intended to bolster the navy's morale, shaken by the sudden weekend ouster of several top admirals. Putin told the Cabinet that he would visit the Sevmash shipyard in the northern town of Severodvinsk on Tuesday to launch the Gepard nuclear-powered submarine. The same shipyard launched the Kursk, which sank in August 2000.
Last week, Putin invited Northern Fleet chief Admiral Vyacheslav Popov to the Kremlin along with other participants of the Kursk salvage effort to praise them for their good work. But after hearing a top prosecutor's report on Saturday, the president said that Northern Fleet admirals should be disciplined for poor organization of the maneuvers during which the Kursk sank.
The navy chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, quickly fired Popov and disciplined a dozen other admirals over the weekend. However, officials claimed that the punishment was not linked to the Kursk's sinking. Officials said that Popov and others were punished for the poor organization of the maneuvers, but gave no details.
Kommersant said Monday that the prosecutor's office had specifically blamed the navy chiefs for sending the Kursk to sea with a full set of weapons, and not just the one torpedo and one missile it was supposed to fire during the exercise.
The Kursk sank when its torpedoes detonated in a powerful blast triggered by a weaker initial explosion of a practice torpedo. If the Kursk had carried just a single torpedo, the explosion would not have had catastrophic consequences, Kommersant quoted the prosecutor's report as saying.
Meanwhile, in his speech before the Cabinet on Monday, Putin emphasized that next year, military spending must "have priority, even more so as we have worked out a serious and ambitious program of military reform."
The Gepard is the first nuclear submarine to be commissioned by the navy since the Kursk disaster. The Gepard is of a different type and half the size of the Kursk, at 9,100 tons. It carries an array of supersonic nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and torpedoes and is among the fastest and quietest submarines in the world.
The navy already has eight submarines of the same Bars class as the Gepard.