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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 12:23 GMT
Russian navy to raise Kursk bow
The Kursk in dry dock in northern Russian
All 118 sailors on board the Kursk died
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By Stephen Dalziel
The BBC's Russian affairs analyst

The Russian Northern Fleet has formed a special team to bring the last section of the Kursk nuclear submarine to the surface.

When the vessel was recovered last autumn, the nose - which housed the torpedoes that exploded and sank the boat in August 2000 - was left on the sea bed, as it was considered to be too unstable to raise.

The team now hopes to raise the nose in June.

Following the success of the operation to raise the bulk of the Kursk, the Russian navy now seems determined to finish the job.

Once the nose was removed from the wreck, the Kursk was carefully picked up from the bed of the Barents Sea and taken to dry dock in Roslyakovo, near its home base of Murmansk.

The Kursk
Investigations on the nose may help reveal what happened to the Kursk
Inspectors have carried out the careful and often gruesome task of picking their way through the hulk. The remains of 109 of the 118 crew members have been identified.

This is far more than anyone believed possible before the wreck was raised. It was thought that the force of the explosions may simply have vapourised the bodies.

It now appears that the main effect of the explosions was to tear open the hull, causing the Kursk to sink like a stone. Most of the crew died from drowning.

Because the nose is so badly damaged, the plan is to cut it up on the sea bed and bring it up in pieces weighing between five and 12 tonnes.

It is hoped that this operation will do more than just complete the clear-up. Some believe that an examination of the fragments of the nose may reveal exactly what happened to cause the loss of the submarine.

But one version has already been ruled out. The navy admits that there was no collision with a foreign vessel.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | Europe
Kursk inquiry minister demoted
23 Jan 02 | Europe
Analysis: Kursk cover-up
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