Russian officials at loss over reason to Kursk accident

Publish date: October 25, 2000

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The divers are about to enter the Kursk to retrieve not only the bodies but also the submarine’s logs, which might reveal what triggered the accident.

The divers working in the harsh waters of the Barents Sea are likely to enter compartment no. 8 of the Kursk submarine on Wednesday. In the meantime, the tension among the Russian officials grows as the divers are not only after recovering the bodies of the men died in the accident. They will also try to retrieve the logs, which might cast a light on reasons to the Kursk tragedy.

The comments coming from the Russian officials as what triggered the accident are getting more confusing. It seems like they are at loss over what caused the Kursk accident in the first place. The three official theories are still collision with a foreign submarine, explosion caused by a Second World War mine, explosion in the submarine’s torpedo compartment. On the other hand, the two submersibles (Mir-1 and Mir-2) that were searching for the fragments of a foreign submarine in the Kursk accident area a couple of weeks ago, found no evidence to support the theory. After this information was released, Ilya Klebanov, Deputy Prime Minister and the head of the Kursk Governmental Inquiry Commission, stated that the collision with a foreign submarine was an unlikely scenario.

But on Tuesday, Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, Commander of the Russian Navy, said again that he was 80% sure a foreign submarine sank the Kursk. Mr Klebanov was out in the media the day after claiming that he did not share the viewpoint of the Admiral, and would rather wait for the investigation results of the Governmental Inquiry Commission.

Logs to retrieve
The reason to why the compartment no. 8 and 7 were selected to be the first to drill into is apparently the belief that crewmen were still alive there after the two explosions blew the bow part of the Kursk. The men could fill the logs, which can help to reveal the situation onboard the submarine during the time the drama was evolving.

Compartment no. 6 – the reactor compartment – is not the target for the divers. The reactors are believed to be shutdown and intact as no abnormal radiation levels were detected so far. Compartments no. 4 and 5 – the living compartments – are next to be opened. But it will likely depend upon how successfully the divers will be able to work in the compartment no. 8 and 7.

The first three compartments are reported to be severely damaged. So, nether the bodies nor logs can be successfully retrieved from there. In addition, it will put the divers at risk. The Russian officials said earlier that those compartments are a pile of melted scrap metal.

Only the Russian divers will be allowed to enter the submarine. Whether the content of the logs they recover is ever revealed depends largely on to what degree the information they contain is embarrassing for the navy’s officials.