MOSCOW – Divers working at the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk have cut a hole in the outer hull of the vessel's fifth compartment and began clearing a space between the compartment's inner and outer hulls, the Russian navy said Sunday.
That hole and others will be used to attach steel cables to the sunken submarine, which will be raised by 26 hydraulic lifts anchored to a giant pontoon and towed to the Arctic port of Murmansk.
Divers also were working on cutting holes in the seventh and eighth compartments, prior to clearing a space between the compartments' walls, the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo as saying.
The Kursk was shattered by an explosion and crashed to the sea floor Aug. 12, 2000, during a training exercise in the Arctic waters. All 118 sailors aboard were killed.
Meanwhile, a giant barge loaded with equipment for cutting away the submarine's first compartment arrived in the Norwegian port of Kirkines on Sunday morning, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. It will be towed to the salvage site on Friday, the report said.
The front compartment, which may contain unexploded torpedoes, is to be left at the sea bottom when the Kursk is raised in mid-September.
The Kursk has two nuclear reactors aboard, but Russian nuclear experts have denied any possibility of a radiation leak during the salvage effort, saying the reactors would remain safe even if the steel cables break and the Kursk slams back to the sea floor.
In Murmansk, a memorial service was held for sailors who died in the Kursk sinking instead of a parade to mark Russian Navy Day, which is celebrated on the last Sunday in July.