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|Thursday, September 27, 2001, updated at 08:29(GMT+8)|
Russian Kursk Operation Enters Final StageThe operation to salvage the sunk Kursk nuclear submarine is to enter the final stage Thursday, as divers have completed clearing debris from around all precut 26 holes through which heavy lifting will run.
The Giant-4 barge will enter the operation area and be moored over the submarine on Thursday, which could be seen as "the specific start of the physical raising of the submarine, " Vice Admiral Mikhail Barskov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy, told a briefing here late Wednesday.
If the weather is favorable, the salvage operation, including raising the submarine from the 356-feet-deep seabed and attaching it under the barge, will take place in the period from September 30 to October 1, he said.
But the whole mission will not end earlier than October 8, as it will take two or three days to tow the Kursk submarine to the dock in Roslyakovo in Kola Bay and then take five days to put the boat on a dry dock.
According to Barskov, divers are mounting eight special panels to the submarine's hull for installing radiation sensors. The readings of the sensors, four of which will be attached on the reactor and turbine sections, will be sent in real time to the Giant-4 barge.
While the weather is stable and the wave under one meter Wednesday, the navy confirmed a storm would reach the area by September 30.
The wind velocity will reach 14 meters per second and waves will be 1.5 or two meters high, said Mikhail Motsak, head of the navy Kursk expedition.
Meteorological experts said by preliminary data, more or less calm weather is expected on October 2, but on October 3 the wind will start blowing, making the seas rough again.
A year after the Kursk nuclear submarine suddenly sank with all 118 hands on board in the Barents Sea, the Russian government is conducting a delicate and complex operation to retrieve the vessel from the seabed and recover the bodies of the remaining crew.
The date to lift the ill-fated submarine was originally set at September 15, but has been postponed several times due to weather and technical reasons.
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