July 12, 2000 off the coast of the Barents Seaa powerful explosion sank a gigantic nuclear submarine Kursk. All 118 crew members were killed. By the time the boat sank, at least 23 people were still alive. The 10-day rescue operation, which was allowed to Norwegian divers a week later, did not bring results. Other countries offered their help, but Russia did not use it. Subsequently, different versions of what happened appeared, some were voiced by officials. However, the exact cause of the death of the crew is still unknown. According to the official version, the Kursk sank due to the explosion of one of the torpedoes during the naval exercises. But 20 years later, it is not possible to restore the chronology of events in detail, since many aspects are classified. So what could have caused such a terrible tragedy in peacetime?
Chronology of the tragedy
August 10, 2000 the submarine went tothe last campaign, and two days later, on August 12, 2000, the Kursk stopped contacting. At 23:44 in the area where the submarine was, an explosion thundered. The very next day, the ships of the Northern Fleet were sent to the place of the tragedy. At 04:51, the Kursk was discovered at a depth of 108 meters. The first public statement about what happened was announced on August 14. According to a statement with the crew, radio communication was established. As follows from the statement that soon followed, communication with the crew was carried out by tapping, there was no danger to the life of the officers, and the supply of oxygen, fuel and purging of the atomic submarine systems was carried out by the Kolokol rescue vehicle.
Later inspection from the descending vehicles showedthat the Kursk is stuck into the seabed at an angle of 40 degrees, and the nose is badly damaged. Moreover, the pop-up rescue camera was disabled. Then the representative of the Navy said that there were few hopes for saving people.
On August 15, the General Staff of the Russian Navy announcedthe beginning of the rescue operation, which was completed on August 21, when the Norwegian divers managed to open the upper rescue hatch of the 9th compartment. The operation to lift the bodies of dead submariners began on October 25, 2000 and was completed on November 7, 2000. From the Kursk compartments, in the autumn of 2000 and fall-winter of 2001, 115 of the 118 dead submariners were recovered and identified. An important fact is that the naval exercises involving the "Kursk" were the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
July 26, 2002 Attorney General of Russiareported that the death of the submarine occurred "as a result of the explosion, the center of which is localized at the location of the training torpedo, inside the fourth torpedo tube, and the further development of the explosive process in the combat charging compartments of the torpedoes in the first submarine compartment."
What really happened on the Kursk submarine?
Immediately after the explosion, the explosive compartment was coveredflame, and the shock wave affected the second compartment. The next explosion turned out to be much stronger, and therefore the partition between the first and second compartments crashed into the partition between the third and fourth (compartments). The inter-compartment doors were reportedly closed, and explosions survived at least 23 peoplethat took refuge in the aft compartment of the ship withrescue gateway. In the fifth compartment of the Kursk there was a recorder and watch documentation damaged during the disaster. As it became known later, the specialists were able to decipher 22 cassettes of tape recordings, and on board were found three notes by submariners. However, none of them reported the reasons for what happened. At least that's what the official version says.
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Among many other versions metsuch, according to which the nuclear submarine exploded, since it came across a mine from the Second World War. However, this version was never seriously considered, since submarines like Kursk were considered unsinkable. At the same time, a number of experts believe that if the submarine came across an American mine Mark-60 Captor, then a round hole in the front of the submarine appeared for this reason. There is another version according to which the Kursk collided with an American submarine - it is known that they have high stealth and could spy on Russian submarines. However, there are no traces at the scene of the tragedy that could confirm the veracity of this version. So what happened aboard the Kursk?
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Probably, the events developed as follows: a leak of hydrogen peroxide caused a fire, which exploded the 900-pound enginetype 65-76A. Which, probably, caused the appearance of a hole in the hull above the torpedo compartment. The second explosion was probably the detonation of the remaining torpedoes aboard the submarine. According to a note dated two hours after the second explosion, which was left by one of the submarine officers, captain-lieutenant Dmitry Koselnikov, 23 crew members survived. However, despite the hastily organized rescue operation, to which the British and Norwegian rescue teams eventually joined, it was not possible to contact any of the survivors in time. One way or another, the tragic death of the crew of a nuclear submarine is evidence of how dangerous the fascination with nuclear weapons and “military” thinking is, let's call it that.