The Russian Navy nuclear submarine Kursk was lost in 2000 due to a collision with a NATO submarine; its name is known “with a 90% probability,” said Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, who commanded the Northern Fleet at the time, in an interview with RIA Novosti.
According to the official Russian version, Kursk sank on August 12, 2000, in the Barents Sea 175 kilometres from Severomorsk at a depth of 108 meters – due to a torpedo explosion on board and the subsequent explosion detonation of ammunition. All 118 crew members of the submarine participating in the exercises of the Northern Fleet were killed.
“The submarine, which collided with the Kursk, followed the Kursk, apparently, but was unable to ensure safety in those sea conditions and all other conditions, it got too close, or the Kursk’s manoeuvre led to a loss of contact … I know its name with a 90% probability, but to publicly name it, you need to have evidence and put it up. I can’t put it out. NATO’s submarine. And it was there, in the area where it collided with the Kursk,” said Popov.
In 2000, in the documentary film by Arkady Mamontov about the Kursk, Popov said that for him, “the main version is a collision with an unidentified submarine, which struck the most vulnerable point of our boat of this project, of course, unconsciously.” However, then the admiral did not indicate its affiliation and that he knew its name.
According to Russian and foreign media reports, the nuclear submarines Memphis and Toledo of the US Navy and the Splendid of the British Navy were in the exercise area. The News24 portal reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense requested permission from the Pentagon to inspect Memphis and Toledo submarines but was refused. The US statement said, “all submarines are in working order.” The same answer followed from London, the portal reported.
The official version of the Russian government commission announced in July 2002 that the Kursk nuclear submarine sank due to the leaking hydrogen peroxide fuel in the dummy torpedo which led to a detonation. The government commission also decided to detonate the bow of a submarine at the bottom of the Barents Sea.
According to experts, the detonation of the fragments was necessary from the point of view of the safety of navigation since unexploded torpedoes could remain at the bottom. The submarine sank in the centre of the area of active shipping and fishing.
Collisions between Soviet and now Russian submarines have occurred several times before. In particular, in February 1992, the K-276 nuclear submarine collided with the American Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine USS Baton Rouge at the Northern Fleet’s training ground in the Barents Sea. In 1993, the Borisoglebsk nuclear submarine was practising combat training tasks again at its own range and was hit. The investigation has established that the US Navy nuclear submarine USS Grayling was tracking the Borisoglebsk, lost sight of it and collided with it. However, these and other incidents did not have such catastrophic consequences as in the situation with the Kursk.