Russian Admiral: Kursk Recovery Effort will End November 11
Efforts to recover bodies from the Kursk submarine lying stranded at the bottom of the Barents Sea will definitely end November 11, Russian navy chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said Saturday, cited by Itar-Tass.
Recovery operations "will not continue" after November 11, said Kuroyedov, adding the date had been jointly fixed by the Kursk's designer, the Russian company Rubyn, and the Norwegian subsidiary of US oil firm Halliburton, which is coordinating rescue operations.
Rubyn said Friday recovery operations had entered "their final phase," while a Russian naval source indicated work on the submarine's hull could end next week.
To continue for longer would mean extending the contract with Halliburton.
"The contract with Halliburton was signed until November 6, although it can be extended for up to seven days if bad weather has disrupted work. Most likely the operation will be called off next week," the source said.
In the two-week-old operation, divers have only recovered 12 of the 118 bodies of crew members aboard the ill-fated Kursk which lies more than 100 metres (330 feet) under the icy Barents Sea.
The divers were hoping to cut their way through the Kursk's inner hull into compartment four Saturday at the front of the nuclear submarine where the living quarters were located.
"This morning, climatic conditions in the zone of the catastrophe improved slightly," a spokesman for the Russian Northern Fleet, Vladimir Navrotsky, told AFP.
Having already cut through compartment four's outer hull, divers "were preparing to pierce the inner hull", added another Northern Fleet spokesman, Igor Babenko.
Divers will follow the usual procedure of first piercing a small hole in the Kursk to take water samples used to determine levels of radioactivity, before enlarging the hole and entering the compartment, explained Babenko.
However, stormy weather is expected Saturday evening, leaving no choice but to halt recovery work again, added the spokesman.
At the time of the two mysterious explosions that sank the Kursk on August 12, up to 30 men could have been in the fourth compartment of the submarine, which housed a canteen as well as sleeping quarters.
The Russian and Norwegian divers arrived at the Barents Sea site on October 20. They have twice been forced to postpone their efforts because of bad weather – MOSCOW (AFP)
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