Russian Research Vessel Looks For Answers In Kursk Saga

Monday, September 25, 2000
A Russian research vessel was on its way to the site where Russia's nuclear submarine Kursk sank last month to investigate the extent of the damage, naval officials were quoted as saying on Saturday.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted the Northern Fleet, as saying the Mstislav Keldysh, which once filmed the wreck of the Titanic, would refuel on the Arctic coast near Murmansk and sail to the spot in the Barents Sea where the nuclear-powered Kursk plunged to the bottom.

The ship has two deep-water submersibles. It would film the wreck as part of preparations to recover the remains of the Kursk's 118 crew.

The Kursk sank with all crew onboard on August 12 and is lying 354 ft. (108 m) below the surface. Russia has said the Kursk sank after a collision with a foreign vessel. But many experts outside Russia say the submarine probably sank after one or more explosions on board, possibly caused by a defective torpedo.

President Vladimir Putin last week gave his approval for operations to recover the Kursk's crew to begin and a senior official said work would probably begin next month.

But Russia has so far failed to strike a deal with the Norwegian company whose divers confirmed the sailors were dead after days of fruitless rescue efforts by the Russian navy.

Newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta said officials from the Stolt Offshore company had met representatives of the Rubin design bureau in St. Petersburg on Friday but had disagreed over the cost of the operation.

The newspaper said Stolt had said it would cost $20-25 million while the Russians were only offering $5-7 million.

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