Divers begin operation at site of Kursk's sinking

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Teams of Russian and Norwegian divers on Saturday entered the waters where the Kursk nuclear submarine sank and prepared to cut into the hull, officials said.

Teams of Russian and Norwegian divers on Saturday entered the waters where the Kursk nuclear submarine sank and prepared to cut into the hull, officials said.

The divers arrived at the site Friday, after months of planning, and immediately began preparations for recovering the bodies of the 118 sailors inside the submarine, Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said.

"Around 1 a.m. in the morning Moscow time, divers started submerging with the aim of inspecting and preparing the hull of the submarine for cutting openings," Dygalo said.

Birger Haraldseid, a spokesman for the Norwegian subsidiary of Halliburton, the Dallas-based oil services company, said from Norway that the dive was on schedule and there were no problems so far.

"They are now preparing to get the cutting equipment in place and this work will take most of today," Haraldseid said.

The divers sailed Friday from the Norwegian port of Hammerfest on the mother ship Regalia. They found calm seas in the Barents Sea area where the Kursk exploded and sank on Aug. 12 and the weather in the region Saturday was good, Haraldseid said.

However, meteorologists have warned that the seas could grow rough next week, complicating the salvage effort.

Dygalo said, "the practical preparatory stage pursues the aim of creating all the necessary conditions for the penetration of the compartments of the submarine Kursk."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said on Friday that it would take until Monday to conclude preparations for the actual rescue work. "The operation will likely start Tuesday or Wednesday," Klebanov said.

Halliburton is working with Russia's Rubin military design bureau to organize the recovery, in which divers would cut holes in the submarine's double hull to pull bodies or body parts out into the ocean to bring to the surface.

All 118 seamen on board the Kursk died when the submarine exploded and sank during naval exercises in the Barents Sea. Russian officials have not determined the cause of the accident. They are considering an internal malfunction, a collision with a Western submarine or collision with a World War II-era mine.

Comments