|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Russian Sub Evacuation Reported Under WayAired August 15, 2000 - 8:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Russian defense authorities say an attempt to rescue 116 submariners trapped in arctic waters off Russia is now under way. For two days, the crew of the submarine Kursk, as you see in this file video here, have been trapped at the bottom of the Barents Sea. Stormy weather has been hindering rescue efforts to get them out. Russia's top naval commander now says that there may have been an explosion in the torpedo area of the boat.
The reported explosion on board and fresh attempt to evacuate the submarine is now changing the complexion of this story. We turn to Thomas Withington for some answers this hour. He's a researcher at the Center for Defense Studies at King's College in London.
We thank you for your time this morning. Can you explain to us what possibly could have exploded and how big an explosion could actually happen on a submarine that wouldn't make the whole thing just totally disintegrate?
THOMAS WITHINGTON, KING'S COLLEGE: Yes, certainly. Good morning.
There are many different theories on how this could have happened. It is known at the moment that the explosion occurred towards the front of the vessel, possibly in the areas which house the torpedoes. Now, the explosion could have possibly come from a torpedo itself or it could have possibly come from various other foreign mechanisms.
Remember that in submarines there are lots of combustible substances. You have compressed gases and compressed fuel and compressed fluids. this kind of thing. There are a number of areas for suspicion. But, obviously, until the vessel is actually raised, it's going to be very difficult to tell what possibly caused this disaster in the first place.
HARRIS: Very well understood. I don't know if you were listening to the reports moments ago from our Mike Hanna in Moscow who came and reported to us that another rescue attempt is now under way since the weather is settled down and a submersible is being sent down. From what you know about the Russian Navy and its state right now -- we know they've had some money problems -- is there enough equipment there to actually effectively escape, or at least rescue all of the men on board this ship? WITHINGTON: Well, Leon, that's a very interesting question. And I was looking at this only this -- just this morning in London. It's known that the U.S. do have a system, the DSRV, diving submersible rescue vehicle. The British have a similar system. If you try and find information on Russian submarine rescue equipment, it's very difficult to come by. The truth is, it seems that very little is known about what rescue capabilities they have.
The one advantage that the Russians do have is that they're experienced in diving, deep-sea research is very good, and also, unfortunately, they've had a lot of experience dealing with wrecked submarines. The Russian submarine fleet has had no end of problems in the last few years. I think the Russians might well be cagey about what they're planning to do in terms of a rescue at the moment. All I can say, annoyingly, is we have to watch this phase and see what they're going to do. But it will be interesting.
HARRIS: Let me ask you one final question this morning.
HARRIS: Does the process of the rescue itself actually put into risk any sort of nuclear accident? We know that nothing has happened at this point. At least that's what we've been reporting so far. But does the rescue itself pose a threat to that state?
WITHINGTON: I think any rescue would be unlikely to pose a direct threat, for example, to the reactor. Any rescue would obviously be attempted through the escape hatch on the submarines. Now, the crew quarters are usually separated from the reactor core. We can, I think, assume, maybe, that all the crew are in crew quarters at the moment. I don't see it posing a significant risk to the reactor. The actual condition of the reactor is, of course, a different matter at the moment. I'm not so familiar with the environmental questions.
However, one thing we do know is the Russian authorities have said that there are no nuclear weapons on board the vessel, and I think that this is certainly the case. It's a cruise missile boat. It's unlikely to carry nuclear cruise missiles, unlike the ballistic missile boats which almost certainly will be carrying nuclear weapons.
So I think the risk to the reactor is minimal.
HARRIS: We certainly hope that this ends with a happy ending. Thomas Withington, we thank you very much for your time and your expertise this morning.
WITHINGTON: Thank you very much.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.