Russia's naval commander-in-chief Vladimir Kuroyedov warned the country's submarine fleet needed an urgent technological upgrade. Kuroyedov, reflecting on the Kursk submarine disaster in August which killed 118 sailors, said the technical level of his vessels was below standard, adding lessons still had to be learnt from the disaster.
"We need to find out if everything is okay with the survivability of our submarine fleet, is it not time to introduce new technology?" asked Kuroyedov, whose offer to resign in the wake of the Kursk disaster was rejected by President Vladimir Putin. "We should dictate the rules of the game, not industry," he said.
"We need to get closer to the vessels and their crews. Many problems are seen much more clearly from the deck than from offices in Moscow," he said, speaking of the designers of naval vessels
Kuroyedov noted that since World War Two, six Soviet and Russian sub
marines had been lost, with 400 sailors dead. He said technical issues needed to be resolved, including the fact that it took 10 separate operations to detach a submarine's rescue capsule from the body of the vessel in an emergency.
"Why can't he have a control button under his thumb? Hit it three or four times and that's it," he said. Rescue buoys also needed recorders similar to airline "black boxes", he added.
Kuroyedov, appointed navy chief in 1997, has many times complained of a lack of funding for the fleet.
He said the best men were not getting the top jobs at headquarters as it was difficult to station officers from outside Moscow in the capital.
He also complained that many officers and crew never received medals or other decorations from the state.
Kuroyedov did not go into what caused the Kursk disaster, although he several times mentioned in passing a collision. He has consistently said a foreign submarine collided with the Kursk, causing explosions on board and sending it plunging to the bottom of the Barents Sea on August 12.