“It is a real hell,” Russia’s prosecutor general, Vladimir Ustinov, described the situation inside the Kursk. The temperature in the fire epicentre was up to 8,000 degrees centigrade. The fire raged all the compartments except the reactor compartment.
Vladimir Kuroedov, the commander of the Russian Navy, said that some cruise missiles will be unloaded using regular procedures. Experts confirmed that the cruise missiles on the port side are in good shape, while the ones on the starboard were likely flooded with water. The investigation activities will be carried parallel to unloading the missiles. So far, 3 out of 22 Shipwreck class cruise missiles, or Granit class, were unloaded.
The sixth compartment, the reactor compartment, is empty, no bodies were found there. The tank of reactors’ biological shield with water is situated under the sixth compartment. According to Vladimir Kuroedov, the water is pumped from the tank to avoid possible accidents. Besides, the sixth compartment is heated underneath. It is confirmed that the reactors are in safe condition, Igor Serov, the designer of the Kursk reactor, said. “We have to ensure the reactors stays in this safe condition. During the accident they shut down automatically. After opening the hatch, we have to switch off electricity to avoid unexpected complications with the reactors,” he added. Experts have already entered the sixth compartment. The seawater, however, was found in the compartment. It leaked in through the ventilation system and other openings. The compartment is being dried now.
It is still unclear what caused the explosion on the Kursk. The designers of the torpedoes claim nothing could happen to their torpedoes. The 650mm torpedoes in question were designed back in 1953. According to the recent experts opinion the submarine was flooded with water in six to seven, maximum eight, hours after it sank.
According to Vladimir Ustinov, the experts examined the rescue capsule and came to the conclusion that due to the severe damages after the explosion the capsule could not be used by the submariners.
“We managed to provide high level safety for the reactor compartment and cruise missiles, but we have to work more on crews safety,” Vladimir Kuroedov said.
The Russian deputy premier, Ilya Klebanov, who is the chief of the salvage operation, arrives at Murmansk on Tuesday.