New evidence supports theory that “Kursk” accident was caused by collision with another vessel
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who heads the government commission investigating the causes of the accident with the "Kursk" nuclear submarine, which sank in the Barents Sea in August, said Thursday that most probably the accident had been caused by a collision with another vessel, possibly a foreign one. However, he did not rule out other versions - bumping into a mine remaining from World War II or an explosion of a torpedo in a tube inside the "Kursk" - and said those causes are still being considered.
The "Kursk" could have collided, for instance, with one of the three NATO subs - the American "Memphis" and "Toledo" and the British "Splendid" -which were in the Barents Sea in August when Russia conducted naval exercises, in which the "Kursk" was taking part.
Klebanov said after the meeting of the government commission on Thursday that the survey during the recovery operation has produced new evidence, including a videotape of a dent in the "Kursk" hull and lines scratched on the fore part of the Kursk body, as if it had collided with some object. He did not rule out that an object on the sea surface could deal the blow.
Speaking about other evidence, Klebanov said one more note had been found in the clothes of an unnamed submariner after his body was recovered from the "Kursk" by deep-sea divers. He read parts of the note. "There are 23 people in the ninth compartment. We feel bad … the effects of carbon monoxide from the fire weaken us… The pressure is growing in the compartment… If we make for the surface, we won't survive because of compression," Klebanov read on television. "We can't last more than a day," the note said in conclusion.
The note was similar to one found before on the body of another sailor, Dmitry Kolesnikov, retrieved from the ninth compartment in the rear part of the submarine. Kolesnikov wrote that 23 sailors had gathered in the compartment after an explosion in the sub's fore part.
The main difficulty, which does not allow the commission to state definitely that the accident had been caused by a collision, is that no fragments of a foreign submarine were found at the "Kursk" disaster site. But this does not mean that there was no collision, and only shows there is no material evidence.
Meanwhile, the commission's assurance that the "Kursk" submarine will be brought to the surface at the end of next summer was called in question at a press conference by Rear Admiral Yury Senatsky, former chief engineer who had served in the rescue units of the Soviet Navy. In his view, the "Kursk" may be brought to the surface in not less than five years, and the lifting operation will cost about $2 billion. Senatsky took part in lifting five sunken Soviet submarines.