Computer model of Kursk salvage operation scheduled for end of summer and beginning of autumn
Readers show great interest in the details of the Kursk salvage operation. The most frequently asked questions are:
What’s going to be done with the fore part of the sub? How will steel cables be fastened to the Kursk's hull? How long will the salvage operation last?
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who heads the operation investigating the causes of the Kursk disaster, has already spoken about these details. We will remind you here what he said.
The Kursk salvage operation will be carried out in three stages.
The preliminary stage began right after the contract was signed on May 18 with the companies that will perform the operation. At present, the last details are being considered, the feasibility report is being checked, and Russian and Dutch experts are holding joint consultations.
The Kursk will be raised simultaneously by several companies. Three of them – Dutch Mammoet and Smit Tak (a sea subdivision of Smit International) and Halliburton Subsea (a Norwegian department of Halliburton) were in the international consortium with which the signing of a contract had initially been planned. But after long negotiations the consortium said it would not be able to raise the submarine at the requested time, in 2001. After this announcement, the Russian side declined the consortiums' services and signed a contract with Mammoet, which guaranteed that it would carry out the operation in due time. The other firms have been invited as subcontractors.
Taking part in the operation on the Russian side are the Rubin Design Bureau and the Russian Navy, which will conduct a part of the operation.
When all details are agreed upon, the first stage of the operation will start in June. This stage, Klebanov said, includes preparatory work: observation of the submarine, clearing bottom deposits around it, and cutting wholes in the hull. The divers from the Halliburton company and the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy, who have already started training, will perform this stage of the operation.
At this stage of the operation, the first compartment with torpedoes in it will be cut off. A robot will perform this operation for safety reasons.
The second stage is to be performed from September 10 to 20. At that stage the submarine is to be raised and towed to dock.
It has been decided to raise the Kursk with the help of a platform-barge, on which 20 jacks will be mounted. A cable will be lowered from each jack and fastened through the openings cut into the hull. Klebanov explained that this would allow the sub to be lifted with utmost care because each cable can be regulated separately, depending on the sub’s position on the seabed and the specifics of the raising itself. According to Klebanov, this operation will take about 10 hours. The date of the lifting has been announced as September 15. However, it may be changed depending on weather conditions. If the waves reach the height of 3.5 meters or the wind velocity is 12-15 m per second at force 3, the operation will be suspended.
Special equipment will be required for easing the sub’s draft. It consists of four pontoons with a total lifting capacity of 20,000 tons. At present they are being manufactured at the Sevmash Machine-Building Plant Severodvinsk. “Our partners themselves asked us to make the pontoons,” Klebanov said.
Sevmash was chosen because they had already manufactured two pontoons, each capable of lifting 10 tons, for a Swedish company.
The fate of the first compartment will be decided after the sub is towed into dock, Klebanov said. Then Russian naval experts will examine it again because very powerful torpedoes are there. Depending on the results of that examination, a decision on the first compartment will be made.