Mayo to leave Kirkenes July 14th

Publish date: July 13, 2001

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

Smit International will stop the operation if safety is compromised, a spokesman for the company said today.

The Mayo ship anchored at the port of Kirkenes at around midnight on July 13th. The boat carries divers onboard and starts for the place of the Kursk accident in the afternoon on July 14th. The divers are Russian and British. During their few day’s staying outside Kirkenes they were training using the diving bell from onboard the Mayo.

During a short press conference in Kirkenes today, representatives of Smit International and DNDS said the safety of the operation is their top priority. Should they feel that anything goes wrong, the operation will be halted immediately. They would not say, however, what will be their first task when they arrive to the Kursk on July 15th.

The weather will be a decisive factor during the whole operation, while the depth is no problem. The divers used to work in deeper waters for the oil companies. A weather forecast can be sure only for 24 to 48 hours in the Barents Sea. The lifting of the Kursk and transportation of the submarine to the military shipyard, situated 10 kilometres from Murmansk, should take around three days.

The boat also carries three representatives of Norwegian company NCA (North Cutting and Abandonment). The company will be responsible for drilling 26 holes in the hull of the Kursk, which will be used for the grappling devices attached to cables.

Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority not allowed onboard

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, NRPA, requested a permission to be present onboard and monitor the situation during the lifting operation. The request was denied by Russian officials with no explanations given. The NRPA said earlier this week that they were unsure whether all the safety precautions were met for the operation. Perhaps, that was the very reason for denying.

Environmental assessment study to come in August

Admiral Einar Skorgen, former submariner and commander of Norway’s northern military district, is now employed by DNDS to be responsible for PR around the operation. Admiral Skorgen has also become aboard member of the Kursk Foundation, which unsuccessfully tried to collect international funds for raising the Kursk. He will also function as a press-spokesman for the foundation.

To Bellona Web, admiral Skorgen said that the environmental assessment of the lifting operation will be prepared by the Kursk Foundation during the first week of August. One of the most dangerous parts of the operation – slicing off the torpedo section – should be over, according to the schedule, by August 7th.