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Kursk salvage faces new delays

Pontoon
A giant pontoons to hoist the Kursk is brought out of a Russian shipyard  


MOSCOW, Russia -- For the third time in a week, bad weather has forced divers to stop work on efforts to lift the Russian submarine Kursk from the Barents Sea floor.

The weather also has delayed for at least one day the departure of a Norwegian barge carrying salvage equipment, including a diamond-cable saw that will be used to slice off the vessel's mangled torpedo bay.

Before they stopped work on Sunday, divers had finished cutting 22 of 26 holes in the submarine's thick hull. The holes will be used to attach heavy steel lifting cables to the wreck.

With the early arrival of stormy weather in the Barents Sea, the operation to lift the Kursk has become a race against time.

 IN-DEPTH
graphic Raising of the Kursk


  • Russia's military plight
  • Kursk namesake
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  • In-depth: Sub disaster
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Such weather, with fierce winds and thick fog, is unusual for the month of August.

Before Sunday's setbacks, the Russian commander of the mission said he remained confident his crew will complete their work by the end of September.

"We are aiming for the period between September 24 and 29 and leaving us some room for possible bad weather in September," said Vice Admiral Mkihail Motzak of the Russian Northern Fleet.

The Barents Sea storm season begins in October, and if the job is not done by then, it might have to wait until next summer, when seas are calmer.

The Russian navy's press service said the weather was expected to improve Sunday night or Monday and that the underwater work would resume soon, Russian news agencies reported.

Officials have said it was a faulty torpedo that set off a series of explosions last August that destroyed one of Russia most modern nuclear-powered submarines and killed all 118 people on board. But what caused the initial blast remains a mystery.

Once it's raised, the Kursk's body will be transported to a dry dock, where experts are to examine the wreck for clues as to what caused Russia's worst naval disaster.

CNN Correspondent Ryan Chilcote contributed to this report.







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