An unverified assertion made by a former Russian admiral contradicts the official assessment that the country’s biggest post-Soviet naval calamity was brought on by a malfunctioning torpedo and led to the Kursk submarine disaster in 2000.
Adm. Retired Vyacheslav Popov, the commander of the Russian Northern Fleet at the time of the Kursk’s explosion and sinking during naval exercises in the Barents Sea, asserted in an interview made public on Monday that a NATO submarine accidently collided with the Kursk while closely following it.
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A distress call was transmitted from the location by the Western submarine, according to Popov, who informed the official news agency RIA Novosti that it was also damaged by the huge explosion. He failed to name the submarine and said he lacked supporting evidence for his assertion.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, declined to comment on Popov’s assertion and cited the official investigation, which found that a defective torpedo’s malfunction caused an explosive propellant to spill, causing the disaster.
Popov has previously claimed that the accident occurred, but his most recent assertion was more vehement and thorough. Popov was the commander of the Northern Fleet and was held accountable for his tardy and careless response to the calamity.
Two American and one British submarine were reportedly sighted in the vicinity of a Russian military exercise in the Barents Sea at the time of the Kursk catastrophe, according to Russian media accounts.
On August 12, 2000, the Kursk sank following two significant explosions. The majority of the 118 crew members perished quickly, but 23 men managed to escape and seek refuge in a back compartment while the submarine plummeted to the sea floor, only 350 feet (108 metres) below the surface.
Hours passed before the bewildered Russian navy command began a search, and the authorities steadfastly rejected offers of assistance from the West, sending Russian mini-submarines to make numerous fruitless efforts to hook onto the submarine’s escape hatch. It took Russia a week to eventually invite the Norwegian divers, and when they did, it only took them a few hours to open the hatch—by which time it was too late to save anyone.
However, the investigators ultimately came to the conclusion that all of the crew members who survived the explosives perished of carbon monoxide poisoning within eight hours of the bombings – long before any help could come. Following the tragedy, some navy authorities claimed that the crew members who survived the disaster might have been alive for three days.
The nation was rocked by the government’s careless management of the rescue operation, which also damaged President Vladimir Putin’s reputation.
When the debris of the Kursk was removed in October 2001, the investigators were able to salvage 115 bodies and investigate the damaged hull for hints regarding the cause.