Diving team heads to sunken <i>Kursk</i> to recover bodies

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The Independent Online

Russian, British and Scandinavian divers left a western Norway port Monday on a grim mission to recover bodies of Russian sailors from the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk.

Russian, British and Scandinavian divers left a western Norway port Monday on a grim mission to recover bodies of Russian sailors from the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk.

The Regalia, a rig normally used by the offshore oil industry, was expected to take 10 or 11 days to reach the site in the Barents Sea off northwestern Russia where the Kursk went down on Aug. 12, killing all 118 aboard.

Russian officials have not determined why the Kursk, one of the most modern vessels in the nation's fleet, suffered explosions and sank during military training maneuvers.

Russia's Rubin military design bureau, and the Norwegian subsidiary of the U.S.-based Halliburton oil services company, are leading the task. Rubin has said it expects to recover no more than perhaps 50 bodies, due to submarine damage.

The roughly 80-member crew of the Regalia, a semi-submersible offshore diving and oil services rig, includes nine Russian and nine other divers from Britain and Scandinavia.

It left an offshore oil base near Bergen, the main city in Norway's west coast, at about 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Monday, according to Halliburton.

Company spokesman Birger Haraldseid said the team will train together during the trip to the arctic. Only the Russian divers were scheduled to enter the Kursk, which lies under 330 feet of water.

The companies have not said how long the operation will take or how much it will cost.

The Russian navy tried for days to reach the crew of the Kursk before asking for international help. A team of British and Norwegian divers reached the scene a week after the accident only to determine that the submarine was full of water and the crew was dead.

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