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On August 12, 2000, after two explosions rocked the Russian Navy nuclear submarine Kursk, the vessel sunk into the Barents Sea with 118 aboard. A broadcast updates the situation as rescue teams work to save those trapped aboard the vessel at the bottom of the sea.
World War III Averted? – Remembering the “Kursk” Submarine Disaster
August 12, 2000, is a date forever included in the newest history of Russia. It was on this day that one of the most sophisticated ships of the Russian navy, the K-141 nuclear submarine Kursk, sank in the Barents Sea. As a result of the catastrophe, the entire 118 man crew of the submarine died. At present, there are several contradictory versions of the causes of the K-141 disaster.
The nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk
The nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk belonged to the ships of Project 949A “Antey“. The «Antey» project (or Oscar-2) consists of Soviet and Russian nuclear submarine missile cruisers armed with cruise missiles (P-700) and designed to destroy enemy aircraft carrier groups. Their advantage is low noise and low visibility.The Russian Navy nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine OMSK (K-186), which became the fifth OSCAR-II class unit to complete a transfer to the Russian Pacific Fleet, as seen from a Patrol Squadron Nine aircraft. Photograph taken i Bering Sea. This is not K-141 Kursk, but her sistership K-186 Omsk.
On Board, the Kursk were two nuclear reactors OK 650-B. The surface speed was 15 knots and 33 knots submerged. The maximum immersion depth is 600 meters. The autonomy was 120 days, and the maximum permissible crew was 130 people. The armament consisted of 24 P-700 “Granite” cruise missiles and 4 torpedo tubes.
Silhouette of soviet Oscar-II class guided missile submarine (project 949A “Antey”).Photo Mike1979 Russia CC BY-SA 3.0
It was built in the city of Severodvinsk in 1990. In 1994, the K-141 was officially adopted for service in the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy. It was considered one of the best ships in the northern fleet.
In 1999, it made an autonomous voyage to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. On October 15, 2000, the Russian command planned to send Kursk to the Mediterranean as part of the aircraft-maneuvering group of the Northern Fleet.
Catastrophe Strikes K-141
On August 10, 2000, the ship took part in exercises in the Barents Sea. On August 12, from 11:40 to 13:40, Kursk was to conduct a training attack on the aircraft carriers of the alleged enemy. Unexpectedly at 11:28 am, the acoustics of the nuclear cruiser Peter the Great recorded strong acoustic signals.
After that, the Kursk did not complete the planned torpedo attack and did not come out for a communication session. In the morning of the next day, a group of ships set out to search for the missing submarine. At 4:51 am, it was found lying on the bottom of the sea at a depth of 108 meters.
Russian Battle Cruise Pyotr Velikiy 099 (Peter the Great) during tactical exercises of the Baltic and Northern Fleets.Photo Kremlin.ru CC BY 4.0
Norwegian and British fleets offered assistance, but they were not allowed to take part in the rescue operations. The Russian naval command reported that most of the crew died within minutes of the explosion.
Beginning August 13, Russian divers using deep-water vehicles made attempts to penetrate the Kursk. Underwater vehicles AC-15, AC-32, AC-34, and AC-36 were used. Only on August 20, was the Norwegian vessel, Seaway Eagle, allowed to work.
Priz Class Submarine Rescue Vehicle AS-28 in the Bering Sea.
The next day, Norwegian divers managed to open the hatch and penetrate into the ship. The submarine was flooded with water. Later that day, it was officially announced that the entire crew was dead.
Official and unofficial versions of the tragedy
According to the official version prepared by Prosecutor General Ustinov from 2002:
“At 11 hours 28 minutes 26 seconds Moscow time, there was an explosion of the torpedo 65-76A (” Kit “) in the torpedo vehicle No. 4. The cause of the explosion was the leakage of fuel components of the torpedo (hydrogen peroxide). After 2 minutes, the fire that occurred after the first explosion caused the detonation of torpedoes located in the first compartment of the boat. The second explosion led to the destruction of several compartments of the submarine. Torpedoes of this type at the time of the disaster were considered unsafe.”
Submarine Oscar class, Bow view.
However, many people, including relatives of the deceased, professional sailors and specialists associated with the navy, have doubts about the official version. There is a suggestion that the Russian authorities deliberately did not reveal the whole picture of what happened.
There is an opinion of Vice Admiral Valery Ryazantsev, who was on the government commission to investigate the disaster. He claims that the main cause of the disaster was the explosion of a torpedo, which eventually led to the flooding of the first compartment and the collision of the submarine with the sea bottom. The impact of the submarine on the bottom led to the detonation of the remaining torpedoes.
Inside the Kursk after it was recovered.
There is a more common theory about an attack from another submarine. Some admirals and officials, Canadian researchers and some retired military personnel have supported this version. According to this version, the cause of the K-141’s death was a torpedo attack by an American submarine.
In the opinion of the proponents of this hypothesis, two American submarines, the Memphis and Toledo, were monitoring the exercises of the Northern Fleet. The Kursk was testing a new torpedo, the Shkval.
Kursk Submarine in the Foreground.
“Toledo” under the cover of “Memphis” was at a dangerously close distance to the Kursk. At some point, Toledo and Kursk collided, and Memphis at that moment launched a torpedo strike on the Kursk.
Sailors pass the coffins during the Kursk Memorial.
The torpedo shot was allegedly made because the Americans heard the opening of the torpedo tube of the Kursk and feared an initial strike. In addition, after the accident information appeared about the discovery of a life buoy in the media, not belonging to the Kursk.
Navy SEALs from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 (SVD-2) perform a fast-rope exercise moving from a helicopter to the topside of Los Angeles Class submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769).Photo: Marion Doss CC BY-SA 2.0
Based on this hypothesis, the French director Jean-Michel Carre made a documentary film called Kursk: A Submarine in Troubled Waters. In his work, Carre argues that Vladimir Putin intentionally concealed real facts in order to prevent a sharp deterioration in relations and a possible military conflict between Russia and the United States.
There are less fantastic versions of the sinking of the Kursk as well. One of the members of the investigating commission, Captain First Rank Mikhail Volzhensky, and Admiral Popov believe that the torpedo jammed from a strong mechanical impact on the hull of the boat.
Kursk in port.
In their opinion, a possible cause of the catastrophe could be a collision with an underwater object or a foreign submarine. The blow, in this case, occurred in the most vulnerable place of the Kursk which subsequently led to tragic consequences.
Norwegian Seismic Array seismic readings at three locations of the explosions on the submarine Kursk on 12 August 2000.
In addition to these versions, there are other hypotheses, such as a collision with a mine from the Second World War, a suicide bomber on board and even an accidental hit of a P-700 missile fired from the missile cruiser Peter the Great.
Many relatives of the dead crew members do not believe the official version. It is believed that after the sinking for two days in the ninth compartment there were surviving sailors. But the Russian government refused foreign aid for a long time and did not rush to save the crew. According to relatives, this was done purposefully.
Grave of Captain in Nizhny Novgorod Cemetery.
The catastrophe of the Kursk was the second most deadly in the Cold War history of the Russian Navy.
Kursk Anniversary: Submarine Disaster Was Putin's 'First Lie'
Fifteen years after the dramatic sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine with the loss 118 lives in August 2000, lawyer Boris Kuznetsov sees the tragedy as a turning point for modern Russia.
The Kursk disaster and its aftermath, Kuznetsov says, was President Vladimir Putin's "first lie."
"The lies began with the sinking of the Kursk," Kuznetsov says. "When the Kursk sank, the government began interfering with the legal and law-enforcement systems. The government began gathering all the mass media under its control. The entire process of undermining democracy in Russia, in many regards, began with this."
Kuznetsov, 67, represented the families of 55 of the drowned Kursk seamen. Now he has political asylum in the United States. The Russian government has opened a criminal case against him and issued an international arrest warrant for him. He says the charges -- which accuse him of revealing state secrets because he demonstrated to a Russian court that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was illegally wiretapping a member of parliament -- were intended to prevent him from carrying out his high-profile legal work.
Indeed, Russia was a different country when the Kursk sank on August 12, 2000, during a massive naval exercise in the Barents Sea. It was just a few months after Putin began his first term as president. National television was controlled by oligarchs and had feisty relations with the government.
In October 2000, prominent television journalist Sergei Dorenko ran a one-hour special on the Kursk tragedy on Russia's national ORT television, then controlled by tycoon Boris Berezovsky. After enumerating the government's failures in its handling of the disaster, Dorenko ended the piece with this conclusion:
"The story of the Kursk is not finished. We have only raised the very first questions and conclusions. The main conclusion is that the government does not respect any of us -- and so it is lying. And the main thing is that the government treats us this way only because we allow it to."
When a visibly rattled Putin met with the wives and families of Kursk seamen on August 22, 2000, no one was afraid to scream at him and accuse him of incompetence or worse:
That encounter, Kuznetsov says, may have been "the worst moment" of Putin's life -- and he immediately set out to make sure he would never face anything like it again.
Kuznetsov is marking the 15th anniversary by issuing the second edition of his book on the case. The volume -- titled It Sank, which is what Putin famously answered when U.S. journalist Larry King asked him what happened to the Kursk -- details what Kuznetsov sees as the government's culpability in the tragedy, as well as the Kremlin's efforts to prevent him from finding out the facts of the case.
The government's 133-volume report on the incident remains classified and only a four-page summary was issued to the public in 2002.
Kuznetsov dismisses all the conspiracy theories about the Kursk disaster -- that the submarine collided with another sub or a surface ship, that it was sunk by a NATO submarine or by "friendly fire" from another Russian ship participating in the exercise.
The acoustic evidence and the damage to the Kursk -- part of which was recovered about 14 months after the sinking -- show convincingly, he says, that the fuel of a torpedo that was being prepared for launch exploded and that the blast led, two minutes later, to a massive explosion of the warheads of many of the 10 torpedoes on board. The second blast was so large that it was picked up by seismographs across Europe and in Alaska.
Nonetheless, Kuznetsov says, the Russian government and military still have much to answer for, beginning with Putin himself. As commander in chief of the armed forces, Kuznetsov says, Putin was obligated to know the fatal naval exercise -- which was the largest in Russia's post-Soviet history -- inside and out.
"He was obligated to listen to the experts and the reports of the commanders and the reports of the naval command. He was obligated to do all this," Kuznetsov says. "And he did not."
If he had done so, Kuznetsov concludes, he would have known, for example, that the Kursk had never before fired this kind of torpedo under any circumstances. He might also have known that the mechanism for attaching a rescue vehicle to the Kursk's escape hatch had never been tested on the Kursk. Many experts have concluded that the Russian Navy's attempt to open the hatch failed because the Kursk had a special antiacoustic coating that prevented the mechanism from establishing a watertight seal.
In addition, Kuznetsov says, a sonar operator aboard the battle cruiser Pyotr Veliky identified and reported an explosion at 11:28 a.m. on August 12. He located the explosion at the exact position where the Kursk was known to be.
"What should the commander of the ship and the leaders of the exercises have done?" Kuznetsov says. "They should have identified the explosion and determined where it came from and what caused it. They did not do this."
Instead, the clock began ticking on the 23 seamen who survived the initial disaster and managed to barricade themselves in the stricken submarine's ninth compartment.
"The Kursk was declared to be in trouble only at 23:30," Kuznetsov says. "That is, 12 hours had passed. Those 12 hours were lost time."
Naval commanders assured Putin that they could handle a rescue attempt without accepting the offers of foreign assistance that came in from Britain, Norway, the United States, and others. Putin only accepted such offers five days after the disaster.
When commanders made such assurances, Kuznetsov says, they knew that the deep-submergence rescue vehicles had never been tested in conjunction with the Kursk.
"The fact is that these [vehicles] were created especially for use with various types of submarines, including for the Kursk," Kuznetsov says. "But they were never, not once, tested with it -- not during sea trials, not during the submarine's [four years of] service, and not during the preparation for these exercises."
No one was ever held responsible for the Kursk disaster. Kuznetsov said Putin made "a political decision" to protect Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, commander of the Navy. Kuroyedov offered to resign over the incident, but that offer was rejected and he was allowed to retire in 2005.
Putin removed a total of 13 senior officers, including Northern Fleet submarine commander Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsov, but all of them were soon given prestigious positions in government or state-controlled businesses.
Robert Coalson is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who covers Russia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe.
Video: What Happened to the Russian Sub “Kursk” that Exploded
On August 12, 2000 the nuclear powered Russian submarine, ‘Kursk’ sank in the Barents Sea, for reasons unknown. It would be years before the fate of the Kursk was fully understood, and even now there is still some controversy surrounding it. But it’s hard not to wonder, what happened out there that day?
Today, we’re going to take a look at what happened to the Russian submarine that exploded and killed 118 sailors.
The Kursk submarine was a big, burly piece of Russian engineering. Specifically, the Kursk was what was known as an Oscar II Project 949A/Antey, which is to say, a nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine designed and built to go after NATO aircraft carrier groups. From an engineering perspective, the Oscar IIs were built with a double hull separated by 3.5 millimeters and were divided into 10 different compartments. The sail had a reinforced double cover, which was designed to give the sub the ability to break through the arctic ice cap.
At a length of about 154 meters, it was 10 meters longer than the previous Oscars. 11 of these subs were made 1985 and 1999, and several of those are actually still in service today. These big boys were considered pretty much unsinkable. So when the Kursk went down on a training exercise, it really caught the Russians off guard.
It was at 11:28 AM on August 12, 2000 while doing training exercises in the Barents Sea, that an explosion rocked the Kursk. The vessel quickly sank to the seabed, 354 feet below the surface, and came to a rest at the bottom of the freezing cold watery depths. Just a little more than 2 minutes after the initial explosion, a second more massive one took place inside the Kursk. What was supposed to be an exercise wherein the Kursk fired two dummy torpedoes at the Russian battle cruiser, the Pyotr Velikiy, had turned into a real life drama that had the world watching in disbelief to see if any members of the 118 member crew would survive.
However, it would be several long agonizing hours before anyone even knew if anything was wrong. The first indication that something was amiss came when the Kursk failed to check in that evening. At that point, the Russians sent out rescue ships, which located the accident area the next morning, on August 13. All of the initial rescue attempts failed however, due to a combination of factors, including poor weather, the angle of the Kursk, and perhaps most significantly, a lack of appropriate rescue equipment.
The United Kingdom, the United States, and Norway all offered to assist with rescue operations, but the Russians refused the assistance, at least they did it first. Four days after the initial disaster, the Russians changed their minds and agreed to accept international help.
Putin Didn’t Return from his Vacation in Response to the Disaster
As all this was going down the newly elected President Putin was vacationing in a resort on the Black Sea. You would think losing a nuclear submarine would send the new president leaping into action but Putin, not so much. Instead of cutting his vacation short, Putin stayed on holiday for four more days. While Putin claims that it wouldn’t have made a difference in the handling of the incident, since he is connected to the military everywhere he goes. Even he admitted that in retrospect, it would have been better to return to Moscow, at least for public relations sake.
118 Crewmen Perished
The delay in asking for international help may have been a major mistake. When Norwegian divers finally managed to open the Kursk’s airlocks on October 21, they did not find the survivors they were hoping for. Instead they found that the cabin had been flooded and concluded that all 118 crewmen had been tragically killed. Saddest of all, when they found the body of Lieutenant Captain Dmitri Kolesnikov, they noticed a note in his pocket. It was written several hours after the explosions, and there were 23 survivors. Unfortunately, rescue crews did not arrive in time for them.
Initially, some high-level Russian officials claimed that the accident was caused by a collision with a NATO submarine that was spying on the maneuvers. According to this claim, the USS Memphis collided with the Kursk and then went to a Norwegian port for emergency repairs. While there is no direct evidence that this occurred, the theory can’t be completely dismissed. The Russians supported their assertion by pointing to satellite imagery of a US submarine that was docked in a Norwegian port on August 19, a few days after the accident and a collision wouldn’t have been unprecedented. There have actually been 11 such collisions recorded in the area since 1967.
The Explosion Registered on Seismographs in Alaska
The explosion that ultimately destroyed the Kursk must have been massive. At least that’s what’s suggested by seismic readings of the event. Here’s how it went down, first there was a small explosion that registered on seismographs. Then 135 seconds later, there was a second explosion, it was an astounding 250 times larger than the first. The second explosion was so big it registered all the way on the other side of the Arctic circle, in Alaska.
Whether a collision occurred or not, the United States did admit to having submarines in the area monitoring the Russian naval exercises. And after the initial incident Russian dive teams found, what they claimed to be a piece of a conning tower from a US or British nuclear submarine. The object couldn’t be raised from the seabed however, and the Russians guarded it with warships so that no other nations could approach the debris. It was around this time that the Russians claimed the remains belonged to the USS Toledo, a different US submarine that actually was docked in Scotland at the time of the accident.
Not everyone is on board with the collision theory, others have suggested that the Kursk was testing experimental torpedoes at the time of accident. However, how the experimental torpedoes may have caused the accident remains unclear.
Theories range from a malfunction in the squall torpedo itself, to NATO subs firing on the Kursk in order to destroy the Squall. While none of this can be entirely ruled out, the Kursk wasn’t known to have had any squall torpedoes aboard at the time of the accident.
While the collision theory and the squall theory are both plausible, the most credible and likely explanation are both plausible, the most credible and likely explanation for the accident is that it was caused by a malfunctioning torpedo, which set off a chain reaction that caused the rest of the torpedoes on the Kursk to explode. The first explosion that registered would therefore have been the initial torpedo explosion, and the second explosion would have been when the resulting fire detonated warheads on some of the Kursk’s munitions. Official intelligence reports confirms this theory. According to this explanation far from an experimental new torpedo, the Kursk was carrying older torpedoes that used hydrogen peroxide liquid as a propellant.
The use of high-test peroxide or HTP powered torpedoes, had been stopped in British submarines after a similar accident in the 1950s. Nonetheless, it was still cleared for use by the Russian Navy in 1997.
Seafloor Inves tigations of the Sub Provided More Evidence
When the decision was first made to raise the Kursk from the seafloor, plans to bring up the entire submarine were rejected. Instead, the decision was made to cut off the forward torpedo compartment and leave it at the bottom of the sea. This raised some eyebrows, even though it was built as a safety measure because the front end had an unknown amount of potentially live torpedoes still sitting in it. However, this explanation doesn’t really hold up, the sub indeed carry nuclear warheads that had to be carefully removed.
Later underwater investigations got a chance to examine the torpedo compartment and found a piece of hull debris, from the number four torpedo hatch, just 50 meters behind where the main explosion occurred. This discovery gave further credibility to the theory that a tarpedo malfunctioned in the tube, starting a fire that then spread to the other torpedoes.
While all these theories have their merits, there is still one more. In 2005 the French made documentary, Kursk A Submarine in Troubled Waters, suggested that the accident was actually caused by a combination of several theories. In this version not only was the Kursk testing the Squall torpedo, but it was also demonstrating it to the Chinese, whom the Russians intended on selling it to. Obviously this upset the US which sent its own submarine in the area to observe. The USS Toledo and Memphis submarines were following the Kursk when the Toledo accidentally collided with the Kursk. This collision, according to the theory, did not register on seismographs. The Toledo retreated and then, fearing retaliation from a Squall torpedo, the Memphis opened fire on the Kursk. The torpedo from the Memphis entered the Kursk’s torpedo compartment, marking the first recorded explosion. Then the resulting fire detonated the explosives in the torpedo compartment including the highly explosive Squalls. This was the second registered explosion which sank the Kursk. This was followed theoretically by an international cover-up and there is no evidence to prove this exotic all-of-the-above version.
For now the truth of what happened to the Kursk remains a mystery. So what do you think what is your theory on why the Kursk went down?
Here is a very interesting video by the Weird History exploring various theories on why the Kursk went down:
Here is another very interesting video throwing light on the salvage operation to raise the Kursk:
The Tragedy Of The Russian Submarine “Kursk” – A Naval Disaster For Russia In The Year 2000
The Kursk submarine disaster was the largest naval tragedy ever to happen in the Russian Federation during peacetime. The country had been experiencing a lot of political turmoil in the 90s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it now entered the new millennium rather tragically.
The Oscar-class, nuclear-powered submarine Kursk (K-141), named after the location of the famous WWII tank battle, sank on 12th of August, 2000, in the Barents Sea in northern Russia, claiming the lives of 118 men. The entire crew of the Kursk died on the bottom of the sea, mostly due to the lack of safety measures aboard and the utter lack of preparation for emergency situations by the authorities.
The disaster occurred during a large naval exercise conducted by the Russian Navy. It was the first major exercise in 10 years and an opportunity to prove that the successor of the Soviet Army is capable of responding to potential threats. The exercise included 30 ships and three submarines. Although it is not usual for submarines to carry combat weapons during such training, Kursk was armed with 18 anti-ship torpedoes and 22 cruise missiles.
The sailors aboard the Kursk were recognized as the best crew of the North Fleet for their conduct just before the accident. The submarine itself was considered unsinkable and capable of withstanding a direct torpedo hit. It was claimed that Kursk was capable of confronting entire formations of US aircraft carriers.
Apparently, one of the torpedoes aboard the Kursk was damaged during transport and it was leaking fuel. It is possible that the damage occurred during transport, as several sources later claimed that they witnessed when the torpedo was dropped on the ground. Nevertheless, it was loaded on the submarine. This particular torpedo wasn’t armed with warheads and the inspection gave it little attention, but noticed the leakage.
The officers neglected the malfunction, for the exercise was a top priority, and it had to be conducted on schedule. The military high command had long before been involved in corruption scandals, often neglecting the malfunctioning equipment in the Russian Army. The fate of the sailors was thus sealed.
The fuel leakage led to the initial explosion. Two minutes and 14 seconds after the first explosion in the torpedo compartment, the fire it triggered set off a second explosion of five to seven combat-ready torpedo warheads.
The seismic readings of the explosions were first caught by a Norwegian seismic array at 11:29h on Saturday, 12th of August, 2000. The Russian command lost contact with the Kursk after the explosions took place, but didn’t even acknowledge that the submarine suffered an accident for six hours. After it became obvious that something was wrong, a rescue operation was organized, failing to locate the submarine during the first day.
A portion of a note written by Captain-lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov, found on his body in the ninth compartment. .08.2000 15:15 It is dark to write, but I will try by feel. It seems there is no chance, 10 to 20 percent. Let’s hope someone will read this Here is a list of the personnel of the sections who are in the ninth (section) and will try to get out. Hello to everyone, there is no need for despair Kolesnikov”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin was informed of the event the day after it occurred. Vladimir Putin, who was in his first year of presidency, was assured that the exercise was going as planned even while the search was authorized. On Sunday, 13th of August, the Army officials tried to conceal the accident, giving a statement to the media that the exercise was conducted superbly, with the exception of the Kursk as it suffered “minor technical difficulties.” At this time, the Navy knew that the submarine was lost, but feared to give any pieces of information about it, since they themselves knew little.
But the families of the missing men were already worried. None of them had called home, and a chilling feeling resonated around the Vidyaevo Naval Base, which was the home of the men aboard the Kursk. Several misleading stories about a temporary communication breakdown were offered to the families, but none of those seemed plausible. It was obvious that something was going on beneath the surface.
he Russian Navy nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine OMSK (K-186), which became the fifth OSCAR-II class unit to complete a transfer to the Russian Pacific Fleet, as seen from a Patrol Squadron Nine aircraft. Photograph taken in the Barents Sea. This is not K-141 Kursk, but her sister ship K-186 Omsk
The Kursk was slowly turning into an international scandal. Since the Norwegians picked up the readings that clearly indicated that an underwater explosion took place in the Barents Sea, the British government along with the USA, Norway, Israel, France, Germany, and Italy offered help. The Russians dismissed the offer, claiming that a rescue operation was well under way and that everything was under control.
Somebody within the government made claims that the Kursk was badly damaged due to a collision with a NATO submarine, which turned out to be a complete act of paranoia. Nevertheless, this claim fueled the Russian stand to refuse any foreign assistance.
On Monday, 14th of August, an official statement was given. The Navy told the press that the submarine had “descended to the ocean floor,” that they had established contact with the crew, were pumping air and power to the ship, and that “everyone on board is alive.”
President Putin met with relatives of the dead sailors in Vidyayevo in a contentious meeting during which the families complained about the Russian Navy’s response to the disaster. Photo Credit
The pressure was rising, as the Russian government continued to mislead the public. Four days after the accident some of the Navy officials claimed that the Kursk was damaged after it hit an old underwater mine that dated from the WWII era.
The public was furious. Family members of the crew protested, asking for additional information, as they were given next to none. Some of the family members weren’t notified by the authorities at all and learned everything about their husbands, sons and brothers fate through the newspapers.
Meanwhile, all rescue attempts failed to due to bad weather conditions and inappropriate equipment. British and Norwegian divers finally gained authorization to help with the rescue mission but were given many restrictions. The Russians still feared to let the foreigners go near the submarine. They were extremely cautious concerning the Kursk, for it represented the pinnacle of Soviet engineering.
After the international team had inspected the wreck, they learned of the first casualties. The explosions killed most of the men aboard, but 23 sailors survived. Due to the slow reaction by the authorities, the men slowly suffocated as the oxygen reserves were depleted.
It was time to come out with the truth. On August 21st, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Northern Fleet, Mikhail Motsak, announced to the public that the Kursk had flooded, and the crew was dead. The next day, President Putin met with the families of the dead sailors and officers.
Kursk Memorial. Photo Credit
During the meeting, Nadezhda Tylik, the mother of Kursk submariner Lt. Sergei Tylik, was extremely emotional and interrupted the meeting. She shouted at the President and was forcibly restrained. This scandal echoed around the world, emphasizing the tragedy that claimed the lives of 118 men.
The Russian government committed to raising the wreck in a US$65M salvage operation. They contracted with the Dutch marine salvage companies Smit International and Mammoet to raise the Kursk from the sea floor. It became the largest salvage operation of its type ever accomplished
On 8 October 2001, fourteen months after the disaster, and only five months after the contract had been awarded to them, the salvage team raised the remainder of the ship in a 15-hour operation. Once the sub was raised and joined to the barge, it was carried back under the barge to the Russian Navy’s Roslyakovo Shipyard in Murmansk.
In Murmansk the Kursk was moved into a drydock, then the hull of the ship was gradually opened, and the bodies of all but three of the 118 personnel on board were recovered. The last three were so badly destroyed by the blast and fire that their bodies could not be identified or recovered.
Official government response [ edit | edit source ]
The Russian Navy initially downplayed the incident. Late on Saturday night, nine hours after the ship sank, Northern Fleet commander Admiral Popov ordered the first search for the submarine. Twelve hours after it sank, Popov informed the Kremlin, but Putin was not told until Sunday morning. On Sunday, after Popov already knew that the Kursk was missing and presumed sunk, he briefed reporters on the progress of the exercise. He said the exercise had been a resounding success and spoke highly of the entire operation. ΐ] :149 ⎝] :23
The Russians first announced on Monday that the Kursk had experienced "minor technical difficulties" on Sunday. They stated that the submarine had "descended to the ocean floor", that they had established contact with the crew, were pumping air and power to the ship, and that "everyone on board is alive." Β]
As the operation unfolded, senior officers in the Russian Navy offered varying explanations for the accident. Δ] At first they unequivocally blamed the sinking on a collision with a U.S. submarine, although they had no evidence to support this statement. ⎝] Later on they offered other theories, including striking a World War II mine, malfunction of a torpedo, a missile strike by the Pyotr Velikiy, Chechen espionage, human error, and sabotage. ⎠] This was the largest naval exercise that the Russian navy had conducted in more than a decade which increased the chances of a friendly fire incident. ⎠]
Criticism of government response [ edit | edit source ]
"For President Vladimir Putin, the Kursk crisis was not merely a human tragedy, it was a personal PR catastrophe. Twenty-four hours after the submarine's disappearance, as Russian naval officials made bleak calculations about the chances of the 118 men on board, Putin was filmed enjoying himself, shirtsleeves rolled up, hosting a barbecue at his holiday villa on the Black Sea."
While the government insisted that bad weather was making it impossible to rescue the sailors, President Putin was shown enjoying himself in casual dress on a summer holiday at a villa on the Black Sea. His seeming indifference outraged the families of the Kursk sailors and many other Russians. ⎠]
Four days after the accident the government held a news briefing. During the briefing, Nadezhda Tylik, the mother of Kursk submariner Lt. Sergei Tylik, was present. She was extremely emotional and interrupted the news conference. She would not be quieted. While the cameras rolled, a woman behind her forcibly injected her with a sedative and officials removed her from the room. ⎬] The government's response to her outburst and their overall handling of the disaster generated considerable public outcry.
The Russian media was extremely critical of the government's handling of the sinking. ⎭] Images of angry family members demanding information or waiting anxiously at the dock for news of their family members were shown on media worldwide. Δ] Some relatives said they only learned of the disaster from the public media. ⎮] :108 They complained they didn't receive any information from the government on the status of the disaster or rescue efforts until Wednesday, five days after the sinking. Some could not even confirm whether their family members were among the crew on board the ship. Β] The government refused to release a list of the missing sailors even to the families of those aboard until a Pravda reporter paid an officer 18,000 rubles for the list. Even then, the government tried to prohibit reporters from contacting family members. ⎝] :37
The continued problems the rescuers had reaching survivors and ongoing conflicting information about the cause of the incident inflamed Russian public opinion. ⎠] Media described the Russian government's response to the disaster as "technically inept" and their stories as "totally unreliable." Β]
Putin meets with families [ edit | edit source ]
President Putin met with relatives of the dead sailors in Vidyayevo in a contentious meeting during which the families complained about the Russian Navy's response to the disaster.
President Putin had been advised by the military from the start of the disaster that they had the situation under control and that he did not need to intervene. ΐ] ⎯] He was told that there was a strong possibility that a foreign vessel had caused the accident and that Russia should not accept help from them. ΐ] :154 Only four months into his tenure as President, the public was extremely critical of Putin's decision to remain at a seaside resort, and his highly favourable ratings dropped dramatically. ⎯] The President's response appeared callous, the government's response looked incompetent, and a sailors' mothers was injected with a sedative against her will to keep her quiet. Ζ]
On Tuesday, 22 August, 10 days after the sinking, Putin met at 20:00 in the Vidyayevo navy base officers club and cultural centre for almost three hours with about 400-600 ΐ] :154 ⎮] :105 angry and grief-filled family members of the Kursk ' s crew. ΐ] The meeting was closed and access was tightly controlled. ΐ] Two Russian journalists from Nezavisimaya Gazeta and Kommersant, who posed as family members, witnessed hysterical widows and mothers howling at Putin, demanding to know why they were receiving so much conflicting information and who was going to be punished for the deaths of their family members. ⎰]
The Russian state channel RTR was the only media granted access. They broadcast a heavily edited version of the meeting that only showed the president speaking, eliminating many emotional and contentious interactions between the President and family members. Their single TV camera fed its signal to a satellite truck on loan to RTR from the German TV Company RTL, and they recorded the entire event. ΐ] :155 RTL provided the Russian newspaper Kommersant with an unedited transcript. ΐ] :155 Putin told the families that Admiral of the Fleet Vladimir Kuroyedov had agreed to accept foreign assistance as soon as it was offered on Wednesday, 16 August, but he was shouted down as soon as he offered this explanation. The family members knew from media reports that foreign assistance had been offered on Monday. ⎮] :108 Up to this point, family members had received 1000 rubles (about US$37 in 2000) in compensation, and Putin offered the families additional compensation equivalent to ten years' salary, about USD$7,000 in 2000. ⎮] :108 ⎱]
In a speech to the Russian people a few days later, Putin furiously attacked the Russian media, accusing them of lies and discrediting the country. ⎰] He said they were trying to profit from the tragedy.
Family compensation announced [ edit | edit source ]
On the same day as Putin's broadcast, Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko announced that the families of the Kursk sailors would receive not only 10 years' salary, but free housing in the Russian city of their choice, free college education for their children, and free counselling. ⎮] :114 With the addition of other donations received from across the world, the families received about USD$35,000 in payments, a relative fortune. ⎮] :114
Claim of collision with NATO submarine [ edit | edit source ]
Size and mass comparison of the larger Kursk and the smaller USS Toledo which is less than half of the Kursk's displacement.
The Russian government convened a commission, chaired by vice-premier Ilya Klebanov, on August 14. Ε] On August 29 or 30, it announced that the likely cause of the sinking was a "strong 'dynamic external impact' corresponding with 'first event'", probably a collision with a foreign submarine or a large surface ship, or striking a World War II mine. Β]
Russian naval sources initially said that the Kursk collided with a NATO or American submarine shadowing the exercise. The exercise was monitored by two American Los Angeles-class submarines–USS Memphis (SSN-691) and USS Toledo (SSN-769)–and the Royal Navy Swiftsure class submarine HMS Splendid. When the exercise was cancelled due to the accident, they put in at European ports. ⎲]
U.S. Secretary of Defence William S. Cohen responded to Russian accusations of a collision with a submarine at a press conference in Tokyo on 22 September 2000. ⎳]
Q: Russians are suggesting that one of the possible reasons is a collision with a NATO or American submarine, they are asking to let them, well, have a look at a couple of United States submarines and the answer from the American side is no so I ask, why not? And what is your own explanation of that particular accident. Thank you.
A: I know that all our ships are operational and could not possibly have been involved in any kind of contact with the Russian submarine. So frankly, there is no need for inspections, since ours are completely operational, there was no contact whatsoever with the Kursk. ⎳]
Kursk Submarine Disaster : The Genesis of Putin’s Post-Soviet Russia
Kursk Submarine Disaster : On 12 August 2000, an explosion in the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk tore through the forward torpedo compartment. This crippled the boat and sending her to the bottom of the Barents Sea during a large-scale naval exercise.
Kursk Submarine Disaster : Was it Russia’s Fault?
The submarine Kursk disaster occurred at perhaps one of the most critical junctures in post-Soviet Russia. Indeed, the Kursk disaster itself very probably demarcates the immediate post-Soviet era from the contemporary Russian age.
Kursk Submarine Disaster : But why did the submarine Kursk disaster mean so much to the future of Russia?
At the time of the incident, newly established President Vladimir Putin, vacationing in Sochi, was initially unaware of the severity of the incident. Putin bungled both the actual disaster response as well as the public relations efforts involving the families of the submarine Kursk’s victims, members of the press, and an outpouring of international support.
Kursk at the bottom of the ocean
A recently declassified Central Intelligence Agency report, produced by the Office of Russian and European Analysis a mere four months after the disaster. This analysis noted that “inept public relations and obfuscation by senior officials smacked of Soviet-style secrecy and mendacity, and turned a national tragedy into a national disgrace as well.”1
What is more, Russia repeatedly dismissed foreign offers of assistance despite the fact that it lacked the capacity to effect any substantive rescue efforts.
Ultimately, 118 sailors perished in the disaster, although 23 survived the initial explosion by sequestering themselves in an aft compartment. Here, they clung to life for at least several hours. The sailors waited desperately for a rescue that would never come.
The tragedy of Kursk was not simply the product of chance misfortune. Instead, the incident was the inevitable result of a number of systemic problems within the Russian Navy, the Russian military and, more broadly, the Russian political organization writ large.
The problems lay not with Kursk itself, but with the vestiges of Soviet ideology that continue to permeate Russia’s reincarnation even to this day.
By almost all standards, Kursk was a modern and capable submarine and a flagship of the post-Soviet Russian Navy. It even carried the name of the city of Kursk in honor of the pivotal World War II battle of 1943.
The Submarine Kursk was equipped with two nuclear reactors, 24 sea-launched anti-ship cruise missiles, 24 torpedoes, a suite of advanced sensors and electronics, and displaced over 18,000 tons. 2
Seaworthy and proven, she was a formidable weapon that, under different circumstances, would have plied the seas for decades.
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Unfortunately, a faulty practice torpedo, poorly manufactured, poorly maintained, and likely poorly handled, developed a leak in the fuel oxidizer tank.
This allowed a highly volatile form of peroxide known as high-test peroxide to contact various reactive metal surfaces on the inside of the torpedo casing.
Almost certainly a product of shoddy welding, the leaking oxidizer vaporized and expanded rapidly.
This led to an explosion that subsequently doused the torpedo compartment in kerosene fuel which then ignited. Shortly thereafter, the fire in the torpedo room caused one or more of the warheads of nearby torpedoes to explode.
This sent the submarine Kursk and her crew to the bottom.
The accident was more than just an unfortunate and tragic disaster. It became both an embarrassing international fiasco that deeply tarnished Russia’s sense of identity while simultaneously scarring the emotional core of its people.
But the road to the loss of Kursk was much longer than a few mechanical defects and poorly trained sailors.
It originated within an administrative environment that not only approved the use of volatile oxidizer compounds within such sensitive weaponry.
This was a practice all but abandoned by other modern Navies. But one that also ignored the dangers inherent in the existing state of manufacturing and readiness across the entire Russian Military.
The subsequent investigation of the disaster noted, among other shortcomings, that “the torpedoes were inspected and loaded by unqualified staff.”
“Rubber seals…shown to be prone to failure” were missing the appropriate paperwork associated with pre-departure inspections. And torpedo seals in other submarines “showed signs of corrosion from prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide.” 3
These transgressions of discipline and safety were not simply one-off omissions, they were indicators of systemic problems that permeated nearly the entire Russian defense apparatus.
These larger underlying issues within the Russian state issued from a variety of sources.
Not the least of which were the numerous challenges in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Russia attempted unsuccessfull to transition to a free-market system and find its new identity.
Further still, financial struggles and geopolitical confusion saw the military fall into a woeful state of disrepair.
This state directly contributed to the loss of the submarine Kursk.
The Russian military was frequently unable to even pay basic military salaries.
The large scale exercises in which the submarine Kursk was participating were likely too tall an order for such a poorly equipped and maintained force.
Ultimately, a disaster such as Kursk was only a matter of time.
The disaster was a product of the decrepit state of the military. This was a function of the Russian state as a whole.
The ensuing chaos and confusion, and subsequent assault on open media, was a product of Russia’s new President, Vladimir Putin.
The loss of Kursk undoubtedly weighed heavily on Putin, but perhaps not as much in terms of grief for the human loss as for the continued ignominy of Russia’s post-Soviet era.
Russian journalist and activist Masha Gessen noted in her book The Man Without a Face Putin’s remarkably honest response. Putin told a grieving family member who was asking if Russia had the divers and equipment necessary to carry out a rescue. “We don’t have crap in this country!” 4
Putin’s enduring frustration and sense of humiliation at the ignominious demise of the Soviet Union and, in particular, the demise of its military scepter of global might, was now on display for the world to see.
Those sentiments would become the driving force behind his sweeping consolidation of power and irrevocably change not only the Russian military, but also the face of Russia itself.
Written by Jules Hirschkorn
Edited by Pavan Nagaraj & Alexander Fleiss
Mysterious & Horrific Maritime Disaster: The Story of the Kursk Disaster
There have been such maritime accidents in the past that have surpassed human capability to fathom the consequence of an untoward disaster. Causes of each accident could have been different and reasons could have been many but the aftermaths have always been drastic and horrifying. In a huge list of such catastrophes, the Kursk disaster is slotted right on top.
The Disaster Story
The Russian submarine Kursk took its name from the city of Kursk where the battle of Kursk was fought. This battle which took place in the year 1943 is regarded as the biggest warfare in terms of the army combat tanks utilised.
The import and the need to understand the Kursk submarine disaster is not just because of the mishap that occurred but also because of the very nature of the naval vessel and the theories that followed its sinking in the Barents Sea on the 12 th August 2000, 11.28 am as per the local Russian time.
Submarine Kursk was a nuclear submarine and from the dwindling Russian military point-of-view, its relevance to assert Russia’s dominance in terms of nuclear power was enormous. However, what was supposed to be routine military practising turned out to be worst nightmare for the members of the highly sophisticated Russian submarine, categorised under the K-141 cadre, which exploded and perished in the deep blue sea killing everyone on board.
Post the incident, some of the various theories that were raised can be listed down as follows:
- The Russian government and military officials raised a speculation that the Kursk submarine had collided with a US submarine causing the dually-pressurised hulls of the submarine to explode. While the overall theory of collision was accepted, the US officials declined to accept the charge that a US submarine was responsible for the collision even though a couple of US submarines were in the vicinity of the Kursk
- The second theory propounded was about the submarine colliding against the sea floor which caused the weapons kept inside the submarine to explode leading to a casualty of mammoth proportion
However the most concrete and the high substantiated theory is that of the usage of inferior quality propelling fuel in the submarine torpedo, triggering off an explosion while the regular mock military activities were being carried out. The usage of Hydrogen Peroxide in the torpedo contained in the submarine has been deemed as the major culprit, setting off an explosion leading to another explosion of even higher proportions. In this context, it needs to be noted that the British navy had banned Hydrogen Peroxide to be used as a liquid propelling fuel because of its highly combustible and volatile nature.
The consensus on the time-line of the casualty, as per the other military vessels in the area, is though settled at two explosions occurring within a time-gap of two minutes between them. The impact of both explosions ranged in the trinitrotoluene(TNT) force scale, with the first explosion releasing around 100-250 kg worth of TNT force and the second releasing about 3-7 tons of TNT force.
When measured on the Richter scale, the density of the first explosion came to 2.2 while the second explosion had a density of about 3.5 to 4.4. When the submarine exploded, 95 members of the 118-man crew died immediately while the remaining 23 battled for their lives for nearly 24-hours in an inner room before succumbing to a horrifying death.
The force and impact of the explosions on the submarine for quite a while led to fears about a looming nuclear disaster. But these fears were soon put to rest as it was found out that there was no abnormal nuclear activity being carried out on the submarine and that the nuclear reactors on the submarine were shut.
The most striking factor about the incident is about the Russian officials’ continued denial to accept the enormity of the situation and their arrogance to shun the foreign rescuing help that came from the United Kingdom and the United States. This outright refusal to accept the much-needed help which could have saved the 23 lives aboard the ship portrayed the Russian government in an utterly bad light.
When the Russian government finally relented and foreign rescue aid was allowed to be carried out five days following the accident, it was much too late for the crew of the Kursk submarine. All the 118 members had perished. In a way their death was quite poignant, for these men often went without getting a proper salary in return for their dedicated naval services. In a bid to reach the once-attained pedestal of military supremacy and unwanted pride, innocent lives were sacrificed. The submarine was finally salvaged and its remains were raised by a Dutch operation carried out in the year 2001. Out of the 118 dead, bodies of 115 members were recovered providing a much needed consolation to the families of the dead crew.
More than a decade has passed since the Kursk disaster took place. People across the world might have forgotten the submarine Kursk but for the parents and other loved ones aboard the submarine, it would be a date that could never ever be forgotten. The Kursk submarine and its crew might have gone forever but the thought of whether the disaster could have been prevented will always linger on.
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Sinking of Russian Sub Kursk - HISTORY
Indonesian Navy's submarine KRI Nanggala-402 sails in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, September 25, 2014. Picture taken September 25, 2014. M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto/via REUTERS
A History of Major Submarine Disasters
April 22 (Reuters) – The Indonesian Navy is searching for its submarine KRI Nanggala-402 after it lost contact with the vessel in waters off Bali on Wednesday. Here are some other notable submarine accidents:
In July 2019, a fire onboard the nuclear-powered Russian deepwater research submarine Losharik killed 14 crewmembers. Five of those onboard survived, according to reports, and the submarine was recovered and repaired.
ARA San Juan lost
The Argentinian diesel-electric submarine disappeared while on patrol in November 2017. After weeks of search and rescue efforts, it was declared lost along with all 44 people aboard. Its wreckage was discovered the next year in about 900 meters of water.
On Aug. 12, 2000, the Russian guided missile submarine K-141 Kursk sank to the floor of the Barents Sea after two explosions in its bow. All 118 men aboard the nuclear-powered sub died. After recovering the remains of the dead from the sub, officials determined that 23 crew members, including the Kursk’s commander, had survived the initial accident before suffocating.
Sinking of the K-8
A fire that broke out aboard the Soviet attack submarine K-8 on April 8, 1970 disabled the nuclear-powered vessel in the Bay of Biscay, forcing the crew to abandon ship. The crew boarded the sub again after a rescue vessel arrived. But the sub sank while under tow in heavy seas, taking 52 submariners with it.
The Scorpion vanishes
In May 1968, the U.S. Navy nuclear-powered attack submarine Scorpion disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean with 99 men aboard. The wreckage was found in October about 400 miles (644 km)southwest of the Azores islands, more than 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) below the surface. There have been several theories for the disaster: the accidental release of a torpedo that circled back and hit the Scorpion, an explosion of the sub’s huge battery, even a collision with a Soviet sub.
The sinking of K-129
The K-129, a nuclear-powered Soviet ballistic missile submarine, sank on March 8, 1968, in the Pacific Ocean, taking all 98 crewmen with it. The Soviet navy failed to locate the vessel. A U.S. Navy submarine found it northwest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu at a depth about 16,000 feet (4,900 meters). A deep-sea drill ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, was able to salvage part of the sub in a secret operation. The remains of six Soviet crewmen found in the sub were buried at sea.
The Thresher implosion
On April 10, 1963, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarine Thresher was lost with all 129 men aboard. The sub broke apart in 8,400 feet (2,560 meters) of water during deep-dive trials southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. According to U.S. military reviews of the accident, the most likely explanation is that a pipe joint in an engine room seawater system gave way, shorting out electronics and triggering a shutdown of the vessel’s reactor that left it without enough power to stop itself from sinking.
K-19 nuclear accident
The K-19, one of the first two Soviet nuclear ballistic missile submarines, had been plagued by breakdowns and accidents before its launch. During its first voyage, on July 4, 1961, the sub suffered a complete loss of coolant to its reactor off the southeast coast of Greenland. The vessel’s engineering crew sacrificed their lives to jury-rig an emergency coolant system. Twenty-two of the 139 men aboard died of radiation exposure. The remaining 117 suffered varying degrees of radiation illness. The accident was depicted in the 2002 movie “K-19: The Widowmaker.”
KURSK SUBMARINE DISASTER
On Saturday, August 12, 2000, the nuclear-powered cruise-missile submarine Kursk (K-141), one of Russia's most modern submarines, was lost with all 118 crewmembers during a large-scale exercise of the Russian Northern Fleet in the Barents Sea. The Kursk sank just after its commander, Captain First Rank Gennady Lyachin, informed the exercise directors that the submarine was about to execute a mock torpedo attack on a surface target. Exercise controllers lost contact with the vessel and fleet radio operators failed to reestablish communication. Shortly after the Kursk's last communication, Russian and Western acoustic sensors recorded two underwater explosions, one smaller and a second larger (the equivalent of five tons of TNT).
Russian surface and air units began a search for the submarine and in the early evening located a target at a depth of 108 meters (354.3 feet) and about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the Northern Fleet's base at Murmansk. Russian undersea rescue units were dispatched to the site. The command of the Northern Fleet was slow to announce the possible loss of the submarine or to provide reliable information on the event. On August 13 Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, commander of the Northern Fleet, conducted a press conference on the success of the exercise but did not mention the possible loss of the Kursk. A Russian undersea apparatus reached the Kursk on Sunday afternoon and reported that the submarine's bow had been severely damaged by an explosion. The rescue crews suggested three hypotheses to explain the sinking: an internal explosion connected with the torpedo firing, a possible collision with another submarine or surface ship, or the detonation of a mine left over from World War II.
On Monday, August 14, the Northern Fleet's press service began to report its version of the disaster. The reports emphasized the absence of nuclear weapons, the stability of the submarine's reactors, and the low radioactivity at the site. It also falsely reported that communications had been reestablished with the submarine. The Northern Fleet and the Naval High Command in Moscow reported the probable cause of the disaster as a collision with a foreign submarine. While there were reports of evidence supporting this thesis, none was ever presented to confirm the explanation, and both the United States and Royal navies denied that any of their submarines had been involved in any collision with the Kursk. The Russian Navy was also reluctant to publish a list of those on board the submarine. The list, leaked to the newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda (Komsomol Truth), was published on August 18. The Russian Navy's initial unwillingness to accept foreign assistance in the rescue operation and failure to get access to the Kursk undermined its credibility.
When President Vladimir Putin learned of the crisis while on vacation in Sochi, he created a State Commission under Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov to investigate the event. Putin invited foreign assistance in the rescue operation. British and Norwegian divers successfully entered the Kursk on August 21 and found no survivors. Putin had kept a low profile during the rescue phase and did not directly address the relatives of the crew until August 22. At that time Putin vowed to recover the crew and vessel. In the fall of 2001 an international recovery team lifted the Kursk, minus the damaged bow. The hull was brought back to a dry dock at Roslyakovo. In December 2001, on the basis of information regarding the preparation for the exercise in which the Kursk was lost, President Putin fired fourteen senior naval officials, including Admiral Popov. Preliminary data from the Klebanov commission seems to confirm that the submarine sank as a result of a detonation of an ultra highspeed torpedo, skval -type. On June 18, 2002, Ilya Klebanov confirmed that the remaining plausible explanation for the destruction of the submarine was an internal torpedo explosion.
See also: military, soviet and post-soviet putin, vladimir vladimirovich