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The BBC's Andrew Clark
"The operation is not without risk"
 real 56k

Rio Praaning of the Kursk Foundation
"The risks involved with lifting this vessel now are lower than leaving the ship where it is"
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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 13:57 GMT
Kursk salvage plan unveiled
Oscar II class submarine
The Oscar II-class Kursk is a giant submarine
By James Rodgers in Brussels

A plan to raise the Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, has been unveiled by the governments of the Russian Federation and the Netherlands.

The two governments have set up the Kursk Foundation, which aims to carry out the operation this summer.

The bodies of more than 100 Russian sailors are still trapped in the Kursk, which lies where it sank in the Barents Sea last August.

According to the Kursk Foundation, a salvage operation is vital, not only to recover the bodies, but to prevent the threat of future contamination from the two nuclear reactors on board.

Reactor risk

The proposal involves lifting the wreck with huge cranes and securing it under a giant barge.

Admiral Mikhail Barskov detailing the rescue plan
Admiral Mikhail Barskov detailing the rescue plan
It would then be taken from the site of the disaster to the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

The operation is not without risk.

The reactors could present a danger to personnel involved in any salvage attempt.

There are also 24 missiles on board the sunken vessel.

Search for funds

If the plan goes ahead, a consortium of Russian and foreign companies aim to carry it out this summer, the only time of year when whether conditions would permit such an operation to be mounted.

The estimated cost of $70m is a problem - the Kursk Foundation has already presented its proposal to the European Union.

It will also be approaching other potential donors, in the hope of achieving what it describes as an international solution to an international problem.

The Dutch government's involvement in the project follows on from their offer, in the immediate aftermath of the sinking of the Kursk, to send a deep sea medical team to the site of the disaster.

Subsequently, the Netherlands offered further support for surveys into the feasibility of raising the Kursk, and the two governments decided to co-operate.

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See also:

21 Oct 00 | Europe
Divers work on wreck of Kursk
27 Oct 00 | Europe
Kursk mystery endures
27 Oct 00 | Media reports
Russia laments Kursk tragedy
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