Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Russian submarine Kursk

The Russian Oscar II-class submarine Kursk (SSGN) sank on August 12, 2000, at 0730 hours UTC during a training exercise in the Barents Sea after an apparent torpedo accident resulted in two explosions. The second explosion was approximately the yield of a Russian torpedo warhead. All 118 men aboard were killed, including five officers from 7th SSGN Division Headquarters and two designers. At least 23 men from the after section of the submarine survived the initial accident. However, by the time rescuers were able to reach the submarine, the aft sections had flooded. Furthermore, the rescue divers found the after escape hatch nearly inoperable, possibly due to damage from the initial explosions.

The United States offered the use of one of its two deep-sea rescue vessels, as did the British government. On August 19, 2000, the Russian government asked the British and Norwegian governments for help. A rescue ship was dispatched from Norway on August 20 and reached the site on August 21.

The Russian government initially claimed that the accident was caused by a collision with a foreign vessel or a World War II mine. Several Russian sources, including Fleet Admiral Vladimir Chernavin, former commander in chief of the USSR and Russian Navy claimed that the Kursk may have collided with a shadowing NATO submarine, citing similar collisions in 1992. Investigations confirmed that the first explosion was caused by a leak of hydrogen peroxide fuel from an unarmed torpedo, with the second explosion most likely caused by an armed torpedo. On June 19, 2002 by Russian Industry, Science and Technology Minister Ilya Klebanov announced that the loss of the Kursk came from a explosion in the forward torpedo room.

Most of the hull of the submarine, except the bow, was raised from the ocean floor and towed back to Roslyakovo shipyard of the Russian Navy. 115 of the 118 dead were recovered and are buried in Russia.