Rubin insists on Kursk being raised on September 15th

Publish date: August 31, 2001

Written by: Rashid Alimov

“I don't want to hear about the date being changed. I strongly object to that,” said Igor Spassky, general director of the central design bureau Rubin, while answering the questions about a possible delay of the Kursk salvage operation, at a press conference in St Petersburg on Friday.

Thus, despite the previous statements made by vice admiral Mikhail Motsak, saying that force majeur circumstances may cause a delay of the operation until the end of November, Rubin is sure that the originally planned date of the Kursk raising will not be postponed from September 15th.

According to the plan, Kursk will be raised, under conditions that sea remains relatively calm within eight hours. Getting the submarine off the sea bottom is planned to take about five hours, the director of Rubin said.

Spassky says the necessary preparations for the raising are carried out in accordance with the schedule. Some works, in particular the drilling of 26 holes in the hull, have in fact been completed ahead of the schedule. At the same time, cutting off the torpedo compartment goes with a backlog. “Today it can be ascertained unequivocally,” reads Rubin’s press release.

Equipment for cutting off the torpedo compartment is already delivered to the destination onboard the barge AMT Carrier, and now installation and adjustments are being carried out.

When speaking about possible detonation of missiles onboard the Kursk, Spassky guaranteed the impossibility of such scenario. He is positive the first compartment of the Kursk contains no “alive” torpedo fragments.

In Spassky’s opinion, nothing can happen with 22 launchers located on both sides from the second to the fifth compartment of the submarine.

The Rubin director also thinks that there will not be any problems with the nuclear reactors. He goes on saying that should the Kursk flip over, as unreal as it is, the reactor would not be harmed.

In any case, according to the Rubin director, radiation always quickly dissolves in seawater. “Though the British factory in Sellafield has been dumping radioactive waste in the sea for 30 or 40 years, the background radiation there is thousand times less than the norm,” he says.

Around September 8th, the barge Giant-4, which will lift the submarine, arrives at the place of the Kursk accident.

“Obviously, we have reached the final stage of this operation,” says Igor Spassky.

Rubin is positive the dock for Kursk is ready

Spassky says, the dock in Roslyakovo, where Kursk will be transferred, “is prepared and put in good condition.” Earlier, there was information that the dock was not ready for this part of the salvage operation.

Speaking about the problems of taking Kursk into the dock, Spassky noted that “against any force there is a larger force.” He admitted, that though the total immersion of the barge, with the submarine connected to it, is about 23 meters. In order to enter the dock the immersion should be less than 13.5 meters.

“The construction will be lifted upwards, and the barge will be put on air,” he said. Spassky added that “after that the immersion will be determined only by the submarine.” The pontoons are planned to reduce the immersion to the necessary point of 13.5 meters.

The dock in Roslyakovo is situated in shipyard No.82 of the Russian Navy, based on German coastal repair factories from the beginning of the 1970s. The shipyard is specialized on docking and dock-surveys for strategic nuclear submarines. The dock bought in Sweden in 1980, has a record carrying capacity of 80,000 tonnes.

The Rubin bureau preparing project for Kursk decommissioning

Spassky says that a technical project for decommissioning of the nuclear submarine is being prepared. After the Kursk is being placed in the dock, a survey will be made, to take the final decision on transportation of the Kursk to Nerpa shipyard.

“For this purpose the submarine will be converted, which means its damaged ballast systems will be sealed in order to draw Kursk onto a tow to the given area,” added Igor Spassky.

Nerpa specializes in repairs on nuclear submarines of the second generation. It has one dry, and one floating dock, and in addition Nerpa is equipped to transfer the spent nuclear fuel from the submarine to the project 2020 boat – Malina class.

So far, Nerpa has decommissioned nine nuclear submarines. The dismantlement of five of them was financed through American Co-operative Threat Reduction program.

Project to raise the bow compartment to be prepared in November

Answering the question whether the cutting off of the first compartment will hide the true reasons of the tragedy because the point of cutting goes right through the rupture hole in the hull of the submarine, Spassky said “there are no rupture hole because the nature of the explosion was different.” In his opinion, the reason of the Kursk accident are unidentified “impacts on the torpedo device.”

The project of raising the torpedo compartment will be prepared in November, he said. The funds to purchase the necessary diving equipment have already been arranged. The lifting of the compartment is to be carried out in 2002.

Spassky says that only fragments of the first compartment will be raised. “It is sufficient to find out the cause of the impact on the torpedo device. That way the operation will be simplified and costs reduced.”