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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"Russian divers spent the day looking at the hull of the submarine"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"This is certainly a controversial operation"
 real 56k

Ivor Kurdik of the environmental group Bellona
"What are they going to do with the submarine once it's in the dry dock?"
 real 28k

Einar Skorgen, salvage company DSND Subsea
"[Raising the kursk] is a decision of the Russian president and I see no reason to argue with that"
 real 56k

Monday, 16 July, 2001, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Robot launches Kursk salvage
The Kurskbefore her sinking
The Kursk salvage plan is dangerous and contentious
An underwater robot has been testing the waters around the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, as the operation to raise the wreck begins.

A Norwegian diving support ship arrived at the site in the Barents Sea on Sunday, carrying the teams of Russian, Norwegian and British divers who will carry out one of the most ambitious salvage missions ever attempted.

Diving support vessel Mayo
The Mayo is now above the wrecked submarine
The ship, the Mayo, is also laden with high-tech equipment including the robot, which is testing for increased radiation levels in the sea around the wreck.

The Kursk, which sank last August with the loss of all 118 crew, is being raised to allay fears of future radioactive contamination of the Barents Sea.

The British divers are expected to begin work later on Monday.

It will take about two months before the submarine is ready for lifting.

Click here to see how the Kursk will be raised

The submarine, which has nuclear reactors and unexploded torpedoes aboard, lies on the sea floor under 356 feet (100m) of water.

Map of the area
Russian officials believe the disaster was caused by a torpedo which exploded.

But they say they remain unsure whether it was caused by a malfunction - the theory favoured by most outside experts - or a collision.

President Vladimir Putin promised bereaved relatives that the Kursk would be raised this year.

Environmentalists have criticised the operation, because of what they say are possible dangers from the Kursk's two nuclear reactors.

Cutting front section

The actual lifting of the Kursk is scheduled for around 15 September.

The team will use robots to cut off the front section of the sub, where the accident happened, and leave it on the seabed.

The operation will proceed in several stages before culminating with the raising of the sub and its return to a specially prepared dock at the Northern Fleet's base in Murmansk on 20 September.

Russian divers have been practising for their part in the operation. Some of the men are already familiar with the Kursk, having taken part in the failed rescue mission last August.

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See also:

06 Jul 01 | Scotland
Kursk salvage team sets sail
04 Jul 01 | Scotland
Russian media row over Kursk
02 Jul 01 | Scotland
Confusion over Kursk salvage
29 Jun 01 | Scotland
Divers prepare for Kursk lift
25 May 01 | Europe
Russia opens Kursk salvage site
15 May 01 | Europe
Kursk salvage hit by cash hitch
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