World Sinking of the Kursk: 20 years of a Russian tragedy

15:30  10 august  2020
15:30  10 august  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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The nuclear-powered Oscar-class submarine Kursk sank in an accident on 12 August 2000 in the Barents Sea, during the first major Russian naval exercise in more than ten years , and all 118 personnel on board were killed.

K-141 Kursk was an Oscar II-class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine of the Russian Navy. On 12 August 2000, K-141 Kursk was lost when it sank in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 personnel on board.

  Naufrage du Koursk: les 20 ans d'une tragédie russe © Provided by Le Point

On August 12, 2000, the accidental explosion of a torpedo caused the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk, flagship of the Russian navy. The fate of the 118 men trapped 108 meters deep in the Barents Sea (northwest) will hold the nation in suspense until the tragic outcome nine days later of what remains as the worst disaster experienced by the post-Russian navy. Soviet.


This Saturday morning, the Kursk, an underwater monster 154 meters long, is taking part in the large-scale exercises of the Northern Fleet, on the borders of Russia and Norway.

At 11:28 am (07:28 GMT) Norwegian seismographs recorded a violent explosion followed two minutes later by a second more powerful detonation.

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The nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea during a maritime exercise on this day in 2000. All 118 crew members died after international efforts to save them The Kursk accident is widely regarded as one of the biggest national tragedies during Vladimir Putin's time as Russian president.

The Kursk submarine disaster was the largest naval tragedy ever to happen in the Russian Federation It was the first major exercise in 10 years and an opportunity to prove that the successor of the Soviet The Russian command lost contact with the Kursk after the explosions took place

The building is spotted Sunday at dawn by the Russian navy. All radio links with the crew are cut. Only the SOS that an occupant of the submersible throws by striking against the hull will be picked up.

At the end of the afternoon, a first pocket submarine was launched, but the machine struck the wreck of the Kursk and had to surface immediately.

Western aid refused

"Technical problems": it is with these laconic words that the Russian navy makes public, on August 14, two days late, the accident in Kursk.

According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, an "explosion in the first torpedo compartment" damaged the submarine and forced it to land on the bottom, in an international area some 150 km north of the port Russian from Severomorsk. The Navy advances the hypothesis of a collision with a foreign vessel.

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Nineteen years on, some things haven't changed. Vladimir Putin is still president and Russia 's Northern Fleet has suffered another tragedy in the sea Churches across northern Russia have been holding services in memory of the dead. It was the same after the Kursk disaster: people lighting candles

The Kursk was a Russian Oscar-class nuclear submarine. Her keel was laid in 1992 in Severodvinsk and it took two years to build her. Twenty -three seamen survived the two blasts. They gathered in the ninth compartment, where the second emergency exit was located.

But the soldiers assure it: the submersible's reactor is stopped and under control and the 24 missiles on board do not have a nuclear warhead. Despite fears, no radioactive leaks will be recorded.

According to the navy, the crew has enough oxygen to last until August 18.

Despite fears for the sailors, the Russians rejected offers of assistance from the British and Norwegians, then those from the Americans.

Equipped with obsolete or unsuitable means, the Russians continue their relief operations alone and in the midst of a storm, failing after failure.

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Vladimir Putin continues his vacation in Sochi on the Black Sea. He waits until August 16 to make a first statement, dressed in a casual polo shirt: the situation is "critical" but Russia "has all the necessary means of rescue".

About-face the same day, after a telephone interview with the American president Bill Clinton: the ex-agent of the KGB orders to accept "the help from wherever it comes". Without interrupting his vacation.

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Almost 20 years ago now. The US spent present value four BILLION dollars to pull up a few pieces of a sunken Russian submarine, whose wreckage was at 16,000 feet (5 kilometers deep) in the pacific. The sinking of the Nuclear Oscar class submarine KURSK took place on 12 August 2000

The Kursk was a nuclear powered submarine which had been the pride of the North Atlantic Russian Fleet in the The Submarine Sank 354 Feet, at a 20 degree angle. In compartment 9, there were 23 survivors. Russia had two India-Class submarines in dock awaiting repair for years , they could have reached the depth of Kursk quite The national tragedy which was unfolding could not be covered up.

His "deafening" silence earned him a regular attack in the press.

"From the first minute, the catastrophe should have become the obsession (...) of the entire state, starting with the president", underlines the daily Izvestia. The press accuses the military of lies and questions the cost of human life in post-communist Russia.

Families are going through "hell". "Each newscast on television is like a death warrant," indignant the wife of a submariner trapped in the wreck.

On the 18th, Vladimir Poutine assures us that the chances of saving the crew are "very slim but still exist" and finally decides to return to Moscow.

Sealed spell

On the 21st, the Norwegian divers succeeded after only 30 hours of effort in opening the airlock of the submarine. The interior of the Kursk is totally flooded. All the sailors are dead.

When he finally goes to Vidiaïevo, the small home port of Kursk where families have gathered, Vladimir Poutine is criticized by the wives of crying sailors.

At the end of a day of national mourning on August 23 in which the families of the disappeared refused to join, he said he felt a feeling of "guilt for this tragedy".

Posthumous testimonies

The Russian Prosecutor's Office closed its investigation in July 2002, without naming those responsible, to the chagrin of the bereaved families. According to his findings, one of the torpedoes exploded, destroying the entire stockpile. The sailors could not be saved and died, no later than eight hours after the explosion.

A hand-scribbled message found at the end of October 2000 on the body of a lieutenant extracted from the wreckage, however, provided cruel proof that at least 23 men had initially survived the explosion and had taken refuge in an airlock.

"My dear Natacha and my son Sacha!!! If you receive this letter it means that I am dead. I love you very much", had written the officer Andrei Borissov before suffocating.

burs-kd / mw / pz

08/10/2020 09:42:57 - Paris (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

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