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The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"The loss of the Russians is acutely felt by men who shared a bond with the submarines crew"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"The Russian government is accused of doing too little, too late"
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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
Sub rescue team returns home
Biritsh rescue sub
The British rescue sub was intended to save lives
The British rescue crew sent to help rescue the stricken Russian submarine is heading home.

The naval team was told on Monday it would not be needed after Norwegian divers found the Kursk completely flooded - ending all hopes of finding survivors.

The Normand Pioneer ship with the British minisubmarine LR-5 on board has the left the operation area and is heading for Norway.


Your contribution has earned recognition and admiration, not just in this country but worldwide

John Prescott

The Norwegian diving team are staying while Norway considers an appeal from Russia for help to recover the bodies of all 118 crewmen on board.

The divers have been warned the operation will be long and dangerous, lasting a month or more.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has praised the British team for their efforts in the submarine disaster.

Mr Prescott said the whole country had been impressed by their "speed and professionalism" in getting to the scene.

"I am very grateful for the splendid job you have done. Your contribution has earned recognition and admiration, not just in this country but worldwide," he said.

Praise

"I understand how distressing it must be for you, the crew of the Normand Pioneer and the Norwegian divers, after so much hard work, in difficult circumstances, to find that all your efforts have been in vain," he added.

Commander Paddy Ryan, former head of British Submarine Rescue, said the British team, who worked around the clock to get to the sunken vessel as soon as possible, were likely to be facing great disappointment.

"They rushed up there with every intention of saving people and now they are not going to be used," he said.

The first dead body from the submarine was found near a hatch and brought to the surface by the divers on Monday.

Lt Col John Espen Lien of the Norwegian Armed Forces said that a camera would now be sent further through the flooded hatch as it was too dangerous for divers to enter.

International effort

It is now nine days since the Kursk suffered the catastrophic explosion which sent it to the bottom of the Barents sea.

Hopes had been pinned on the British rescue effort, after an eighth Russian rescue mission failed to link with the submarine on Friday.

The operation had become a race against time, as experts failed to determine whether any of the 118 trapped sailors were still alive.

Paddy Ryan
Commander Paddy Ryan said team would be disappointed
All sides seemed satisfied the British LR5 mini-submarine was technically capable of docking with the Russian vessel on its arrival.

But Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov confirmed the LR5 would not after all be deployed in the operation to save the Kursk following a meeting of the international rescue team.

Mr Ryan said he now believed there would be "great political pressure" for the Russians to salvage the nuclear submarine, but he doubted whether they had the "technical capabilities" to raise the 18,000 tonne vessel to the surface.

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