Magazine article Insight on the News

Apparently Bigger Isn't Better in Russian Sub Technology

Magazine article Insight on the News

Apparently Bigger Isn't Better in Russian Sub Technology

Article excerpt

A Norwegian subsidiary of Halliburton, the U.S. company which until recently was headed by George W. Bush's running mate Dick Cheney, has been given by the Kremlin the gruesome task of recovering at least some of the bodies of the 118 sailors who died when the submarine Kursk plunged to the bottom of the Barents Sea in August.

Under the contract's terms, Halliburton's subsidiary will provide logistical support for a recovery operation to be started in mid-October by Russian deep-sea divers. It is expected that only 30 or so bodies will be recovered -- the rest will have to wait until next year when the Russians plan to raise the entire vessel with the assistance of a still-to-be-named foreign partner. Russian President Vladimir Putin, slammed for inaction in the days following the sinking, clearly hopes that recovering at least some bodies will take the heat off him from the relatives of the dead.

Halliburton's limited recovery operation, though, is unlikely to cast any more light on what sank the massive Oscar H-class sub. The Russian military, under fire for its handling of the sinking, remains adamant that the Kursk sank due to explosions caused by a collision with a foreign sub. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster the British were fingered as the culprits. More recently Russian military authorities have pointed to an American sub as the cause.

The drumbeat of blame has continued in the weeks since. A Sept. 15 Interfax wire report quoted former Russian Black Sea Fleet commander Adm. Eduard Baltin saying that "most likely a U.S. vessel caused the sinking of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk." And Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev has declared that he has "incontrovertible evidence" that another vessel collided with the Kursk, implying that it most likely was a U.S. submarine that was spying on the Russian naval exercise in which the Kursk was participating. Sergeyev has failed to release the evidence.

Although admitting there were U.S. subs as well as British vessels in the area, the Pentagon has denied the accusation of a collision, quickly pointing out that if another vessel had collided with the Kursk, the biggest attack sub ever built, it would have been severely damaged.

The Russian and international media have spent much time exploring complicated theories to ascertain what might have happened to the Kursk and whether the Russian explanation could be probable, but no newspaper or commentator has done the obvious: compare the size of the Kursk with the foreign sub that apparently was the nearest. …

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