Russia signed a deal with an American company - the Norwegian arm of Halliburton -- to recover at least some of the bodies of the 118 sailors who died when the submarine sank
to the bottom of the Arctic ocean
in August. The Rubin design bureau, which designed the nuclear-powered Kursk, signed a contract with Halliburton to provide what is essentially logistical support for an operation to be carried out by Russian deep-sea divers. But the logistical and technical difficulties of the operation, which will begin in just over two weeks, mean that perhaps as few as 30 or 35 bodies may be recovered, at least until the entire vessel is raised next year. "The contract stipulates that the work will be conducted in October-November 2000," said a joint press release distributed after the signing in St Petersburg, where Rubin is based.