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Sunday, 21 October, 2001, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Kursk reaches dry dock
Giant 4 barge in Roslyakovo port
The Kursk was pulled into dock by a giant barge
The final phase of the recovery of the wrecked Russian submarine, the Kursk, has been completed.

A giant barge pulled the wreck into a dry dock in Roslyakovo near the Barents Sea port of Murmansk, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.

A team of technicians will now start to recover the bodies of most of the 118 crew which the wreck is believed to contain.

Cables above Kursk
Raising the Kursk was seen as a technical triumph
They will also examine the wreck to try to solve the mystery behind the two on-board explosions which sent it to the bottom of the Barents Sea in August 2000.

The dry docking was completed a day later than planned, after it was decided that the operation by Russian and Dutch salvage teams would have to be modified, the Russian navy said.

The operation was complicated by high winds of around 56 km/hour (35 miles an hour).

The teams were anxious to avoid any sudden moves as they brought in the 18,000-ton vessel, which is still carrying twin nuclear reactors and 22 Granit cruise missiles.

Graves at Serafimov cemetery in St. Petersburg
Graves prepared for the bodies in the Kursk
The Dutch salvage firm involved, Mammoet, has sought to allay fears about the reactors, stressing that radiation levels are monitored 24 hours a day and there has been no problem so far.

The raising of the wreck on 8 October was seen as a triumph, especially as repeated setbacks had pushed the operation perilously close to the Arctic winter.

Investigation

Although the investigation will try to establish what went wrong when the Kursk sank two years ago, the bow, which is believed by many to hold the key to the explosions, remains on the seabed and is due to be recovered separately next year.

But the Russian naval officer directing the operation, Vice-Admiral Mikhail Barskov, has said that the bow is in such poor condition it cannot be lifted as a whole.

"It doesn't exist," he said.

He added that seven fragments of the bow had been removed when the main part of the submarine was lifted free.

See also:

10 Oct 01 | Europe
Kursk reaches harbour
10 Oct 01 | Europe
Kursk success opens new risks
07 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
New theory for Kursk sinking
11 Oct 01 | UK
'I helped raise the Kursk'
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