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|Tuesday, October 09, 2001, updated at 10:10(GMT+8)|
Russia's Kursk Sub Heads Home after Lifting SuccessThe wreck of Russia's Kursk nuclear submarine headed to port on Monday after a marathon salvage operation raised it from the Arctic seabed, more than a year after it sank with the loss of all 118 crew.
Larissa van Seumeren, spokeswoman for Dutch salvage contractors Mammoet, said the wreck of the Kursk was secured to the Giant-4 barge around 7 p.m. (1500 GMT).
The operation to raise the 18,000-tonne Kursk, 100 metres (330 ft) off the seabed, took a little over 15 hours.
The barge then set a course for dry dock in the town of Roslyakovo, outside the northern port city of Murmansk, where the Kursk is to be delivered, she said. The voyage would take around two days.
Experts there will try to determine the cause of the August 12, 2000 disaster, and cut out the submarine's arsenal of cruise missiles.
Two massive explosions sent the Kursk, one of Russia's most modern vessels, to the bottom of the Barents Sea. But the successful completion of the salvage operation is unlikely to end the mystery surrounding the Kursk's demise.
Salvage teams sawed off the badly damaged bow section -- containing the torpedo tubes that are thought to have been epicentre of the blasts. That part is due to be lifted in a separate operation next year.
However, officials have said that all primary evidence as to the cause of the explosions was likely to have been destroyed by the blasts themselves.
When experts have finished studying the wreck, the Kursk will be sealed and towed to a nearby shipyard at Snezhnogorsk, where its nuclear fuel will be unloaded and the vessel cut up.
KURSK COMING HOMEThe nerve-wracking task of freeing the giant submarine from the muddy sea floor started after divers installed radiation monitors at the wreck and made last-minute checks.
The Kursk finally rose off the ocean floor around 2345 GMT on Sunday, more than three hours after crews began trying to winch the vessel's stern from the muddy seabed.
The lifting pressure was then transferred slowly forward in a delicate operation aimed at retrieving the submarine intact. Once free, the 150-metre-long vessel was raised at the stately pace of around 10 metres an hour.
The Kursk disaster and the botched efforts to rescue the stricken crew shocked Russia, and saw President Vladimir Putin roundly attacked for his failure to break off a Black Sea holiday to handle the crisis.
Putin later vowed to raise the Kursk at any cost and return the sailors' remains to their families for burial.
An official commission is mulling three main theories into the sinking: a torpedo malfunction; a mine; collision with another submarine.
The lifting operation was set for September 15 but was delayed by bad weather and technical difficulties.
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