MOSCOW – Divers resumed the operation to raise the Russian Kursk nuclear submarine from the floor of the Barents Sea on Friday after a halt caused by storms in the area, officials said.
The 18,000-ton vessel, which sank during naval exercises Aug. 12 last year, killing the entire 118-man crew, is to be brought to the surface Sept. 15 by steel cables connected to 26 computer-controlled hydraulic lifting devices, anchored to a giant barge.
Divers went down to the sunken Kursk Friday evening as weather conditions in the area eased and were working in the area of the submarine's third and fourth sections, said Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo.
On Thursday, winds of up to 45 mph and high waves rocked the Norwegian diving support ship Mayo, which serves as a base for the salvage operation, and Vice Adm. Mikhail Motsak decided to suspend work until the situation was calmer.
The harsh weather in the region north of the arctic port of Murmansk was one of many risks that critics cited in opposing the costly lifting operation.
An international team of divers has so far made 16 of 26 holes in the Kursk's double hull. Once that is completed, they will prepare to sever the submarine's mangled fore section, which is to be left behind when the Kursk is lifted — for fear it could contain unexploded torpedoes.
After the Kursk's bow is sawed off, the divers will attach steel cables. Towing the submarine to harbor is expected to take up to two weeks, depending on the weather.
Russian officials, who hope a close look at the submarine will shed light on the cause of the disaster and comfort family members of the victims, said they still planned to complete the operation on schedule.
"The deadline for the operation will not change," Ilya Klebanov, a deputy prime minister, was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency Interfax.