Posted 12 августа 2021, 18:38
Published 12 августа 2021, 18:38
Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37
Vice-Admiral of the Reserve, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Tengiz Borisov shared his memories of that tragedy with Novye Izvestia.
- On August 14, 2000, the media sparingly reported about the alleged collision of the Russian nuclear submarine "Kursk" with an unidentified floating object that took place on August 12 at 11:55 am in the Barents Sea, - said Tengiz Borisov.
As a result of the collision, the press wrote, the nuclear submarine sank at a depth of 105-108 meters, the crew is alive, contact has been established, preparations for rescue are underway. The then Minister of Defense, Marshal of the Russian Federation I.D. Sergeev in his interview went even further, saying that an operation was being prepared to supply hot food for the crew on board the sunken submarine.
Only the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, Fleet Admiral V.I. Kuroyedov speaking on television honestly said that the situation was difficult, and he did not undertake to predict anything.
Apparently, Vladimir Ivanovich was "prompted" from above that he was wrong, and no more similar statements followed.
The whole country watched with bated breath the drama unfolding in the Northern Fleet, and people who knew the truth from the very beginning, shamelessly lied, instilling hope in people for a successful outcome of the crew rescue operation.
In those days, one of the northern factories had already received an order for 118 or 120 coffins, that is, on the basis of all sailors on board the Kursk.
There was no cat in the dark room
Those who convinced the Russians of the speedy completion of the rescue operation and at the same time ordered the coffins showed miracles of efficiency in finding NGOs. It was either a submarine or a surface ship. Their nationality was modestly lowered, but a rather transparent allusion to the NATO bloc was made.
A little later, an American nuclear submarine was found, which went to dock repairs in one of the northern ports of Europe, and automatically fell under suspicion of involvement in the collision with the Kursk.
Hotheads from the State Duma demanded an inspection of the American nuclear submarine, which, of course, received a polite but firm refusal.
Indeed, Confucius was right when he said that it is difficult to find a cat in a dark room, especially if it is not there. There was no cat….
Considering myself a specialist in the field of emergency rescue operations (he was the chairman of the Committee for Special Purpose Underwater Operations under the Government of the Russian Federation (1992-1994), I was expecting an invitation to the Main Headquarters of the Navy, at least for consultations, but, without waiting, I called one to a friend of the admiral himself. My services were politely refused...
On August 14, I went with a group of specialists to Kaliningrad, where I arrived on the 15th and began to prepare for going to sea. That year, the international expedition once again had to explore the areas of the Baltic Sea and the Skagerrak Strait, where in 1945-1947. the allies flooded the trophies - the fascist arsenals of chemical weapons.
I went to sea with the expedition on the research vessel "Professor Shtokman", - said T. Borisov. - Of course, all thoughts were about the Kursk. I carefully read and watched on the TV screen everything that had at least some relation to the Kursk.
On August 16, at about 12.00, I was on the pier when two specialized vehicles with the abbreviation ORT and NTV arrived on the sides. I was asked to give an interview about the Kursk incident. I made an attempt to refuse, referring to my complete lack of official information and the fact that I was not involved in solving this problem, and, accordingly, I cannot say anything beyond the information published in the media.
Correspondents patiently listened to my arguments, but did not accept my refusal: “You are a submariner, a specialist, many people both in the country and abroad still remember you as the head of the Committee for Special Purpose Underwater Operations under the Government of the Russian Federation. If you want, we can not give your name, rank, show you from the back. " It was impossible to refuse.
"I promised to tell the truth"
Below I would like to provide excerpts from my interview:
Question: Do you think it will be possible to find the perpetrators of the collision, and what could it be - a surface ship or a nuclear submarine?
Answer: There was no collision. The rover was sailing at shallow depths at a low speed (no higher than 8 knots) and could not collide with a surface ship. "Kursk" has an excellent acoustic system and could not allow a dangerous rapprochement with another nuclear submarine either. The damage, according to media reports, is located in the upper part of the submarine's hull. It is difficult to assume that the foreign nuclear submarine was on the surface or positioned in the area of the exercises of the Northern Fleet. The total underwater displacement of the Kursk is 18,000 tons. None of the NATO nuclear submarines capable of being in this area of the Barents Sea is less than a third of this size.
Question: Why do you think that the speed of the Kursk did not exceed 8 knots?
Answer: He walked under the periscope, and that says it all.
Question: What happened?
Answer: Soviet-built submarines have a large buoyancy reserve and can withstand flooding of any compartment with adjacent main ballast tanks. Consequently, at least two compartments were flooded on the Kursk. The only option I can imagine is an explosion of ammunition, which instantly flooded two or more compartments.
Question: So you suppose there are victims?
Answer: If, as I suppose, there was an explosion of ammunition on the racks in the first compartment, everyone who was in the bow compartments, from the first to the reactor compartment, died instantly. I believe that the reactor block has survived, otherwise the radioactive contamination would undoubtedly have been recorded by foreign experts, and this would have become public knowledge. In the aft compartments after the explosion, 20 - 25 people could remain alive (later it turned out that in reality there were 23 sailors there).
Question: So you can save them?
Answer: I didn't say that. I said that they could have survived immediately after the alleged explosion. But today four days have passed since the disaster. They have no chance of staying alive, even theoretically. Maximum two or three days. Believe me, as a submariner, it is very difficult for me to say this, but you asked me to tell the truth.
Question: And the Minister of Defense says that the crew is alive, there is a connection with it…
Answer: Let it remain on the conscience of the Minister of Defense.
Question: What could have caused the explosion? Collision?
Answer: No. And again no. Collision is excluded. Throughout the entire history of scuba diving, 39 submarines have died from an explosion of hydrogen generated by accumulator batteries (AB) throughout the world. These are only documented cases. I dare say that many of the missing submarines died for similar reasons. I happened to see the results of an AB explosion on a Soviet nuclear submarine in September 1977 in the Northern Fleet. Only due to the fact that the nuclear submarine went unarmed, it remained afloat. The compartments (first and second) were torn apart, as they say, into the trash. The decks of the second compartment were rolled up, the pipes were wound into coils .... I believe that a hydrogen explosion occurred on the Kursk in the first, torpedo compartment, which resulted in the detonation of the ammunition.
There are two options for the development of events: either a double explosion with an interval of several milliseconds, or two separate explosions. That is, first a relatively weak hydrogen explosion, then a strong fire in the compartment and the second, a catastrophic explosion of ammunition in 2-3 minutes (in reality, after 2 minutes 15 seconds).
Question: What could have led to an excess of hydrogen in the compartment?
Answer: No matter how hard it is to say, but - the notorious "human factor". Obviously, the personnel of the compartment did not monitor the concentration of hydrogen. Banal negligence led to disaster. By the way, the aforementioned explosion on the Soviet nuclear submarine occurred precisely for this reason. Either the hydrogen afterburning system was not turned on, or it did not work for some reason, but in both cases the crew was completely careless - the hydrogen concentration in the compartment was not monitored for many hours (mandatory measurements are taken every 30 minutes) most likely from the moment of going to sea. For half an hour, an explosive mixture of hydrogen and air is not formed in the compartment.
As I found out later, on August 16 at 14.00 in the next news block on the NTV channel, this interview was shown almost in full. At 18.00, they left him a couple of off-screen announcer phrases against the background of a picture with my performance, and they did not mention it again. ORT showed nothing...
I was saved by going out to sea. They did not manage to deal with me on the spot, and when I returned from the expedition almost three weeks later, it was too late. The whole world already knew about the death of all people on board the nuclear submarine and mourned them.
A lie has come into play again
The clumsy attempts of naval sailors to rescue the crew with the help of a 1940s rescue diving bell and a relatively more modern emergency working projectile could cause nothing but a feeling of bitterness and disappointment in the specialist.
It was reported that the list of the sunken boat reached 25 degrees. A third-year student of any Higher Naval School knows that it is impossible to install a diving bell with such a roll. The only thing that can be done in such an attempt is to break the coaming platform (a polished ring around the hatch, which seals the transition space between the submarine and the rescue vehicle) and exclude the possibility of landing the ARS. In all likelihood, it was the diving bell that damaged the coaming platform above the aft hatch of the 9th compartment, and all attempts of the emergency working projectile operators to "stick" to the sunken submarine were unsuccessful. A lie was being used again.
Being forced to admit the fact of the explosion, the "experts" in shoulder straps began to assure the Russians that the entire light hull of the nuclear submarine had been so deformed by it that the glass under the coaming platform crumpled and became leaky. Complete absurdity, by the way, confirmed after the rise of the "Kursk"!
It was customary at all times to attribute their incompetence to "objective" reasons. Honestly, even if by some miracle with such a roll it was possible to install a diving bell on the first attempt, there would still be no rescued. This happened only on the fourth or fifth day after the disaster, when all the sailors who survived the terrible explosion died long ago from suffocation….
All countries read reports on two explosions recorded by Norwegian seismologists in the area of the Kursk sinking. The second one was much more powerful than the previous one…. In Russia, this information became public only after very many days.
Our "specialists" deceived not only their own people. They also lied shamelessly to the first persons of the state. I do not doubt for a second that if Vladimir Putin knew about the real scale of the catastrophe, he, as the President of Russia and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country, as the son of a sailor and just as a person, would take the leadership of the crew rescue operation into his own hands. Most likely, he was simply “prepared” for a long time for unpleasant news. They reported a small incident that did not require the intervention of the first person of the state, which did the latter a "disservice". And all the subsequent streams of lies and the continuing (contrary to common sense) persistent search for an unidentified underwater object hardly had a positive effect on the image of Russia in the eyes of the world community.
To be honest, of the officials, most of all I felt sorry for the press secretary of the Navy, Captain Second Rank I. Dygalo. What heresy he had never voiced in those tragic days! Sometimes several times a day. I think that most of all this officer regretted that we have color television, because it seems to me that it was impossible to repeat what he was asked to convey to the people without blushing. But he's a victim of the call of duty. It was simply used, sorry for being rude, according to the principle of "people grab everything."
When it became impossible to hide further the truth about the death of the crew, the officials went to another deception of the population and the country's leadership. Forgetting their own words about the communication established with the crew, they said that, they say, people died very quickly. It is not clear with whom you "kept in touch" during the first 4 or 5 days after the disaster? Later, the Chairman of the State Commission for the Investigation of the Kursk Disaster, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government I.I. Klebanov published "absolutely reliable" information about "the death of the crew within 2-3 minutes after the explosion."
Flying with him on a business trip, on board the plane, I asked Ilya Iosifovich, being an official, not to make such statements, since then the truth will emerge anyway and it will not look very beautiful. Klebanov insisted on his own, - said Vice Admiral Borisov.
"Kursk" did not get in touch
So, the nuclear submarine sank during the large-scale exercises of the Northern Fleet, when all its command (headed by the fleet commander, Admiral Popov) was either at sea on board the Peter the Great heavy aircraft carrier, where the exercise headquarters was located, or on the main the command post of the fleet. It was almost impossible not to register two explosions of great strength. In an area closed to all outside ships and vessels, where only the domestic nuclear submarine was located, two powerful explosions should have forced the headquarters of the exercises to immediately try to contact the latter. "Kursk" did not get in touch, could not get out. At this time, he was already resting at a depth of 108 meters.
How long does it take even for a not very agile headquarters to add two and two and realize that an emergency situation has arisen? Let it be an hour. Was the fleet alert issued after this period? Were the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, the Minister of Defense, and the President of Russia immediately notified? I'm far from sure. Were deep divers called from St. Petersburg? No!
In one of the research institutes near St. Petersburg, there are very qualified officers and midshipmen-deep-divers. It is enough for them forty minutes - an hour to get ready. It takes another hour to get to the airfield. A two-hour flight to the Murmashi airfield near Murmansk. Let another hour or two for a helicopter flight to heavy aircraft carrier.
After six hours, rescuers could start preparing for the dive from the flagship of the Northern Fleet. During this time, it was quite possible to find the place of the submarine's death.
The bottom in this area of the Barents Sea is as flat as a table, and it is not very difficult to find an object with a height and width of a six-storey building and a length of more than 160 meters, moreover, metal, I think, is not very difficult. Especially considering that the bearing to the explosion point was probably recorded (and not from one ship, but also from the coast), and the approximate location of the Kursk was known.
In another hour or two hours diving could begin. The depth of 108 meters is for children for the specialists I am talking about. How long does it take to examine a sunken boat for the presence of living people? Let another couple of hours. Having tapped the sunken submarine, rescuers, 9-10 hours after the disaster, could know exactly how many people remained on board, how many ISP-60 rescue kits, IDA-75 or IDA-59 vehicles they had, and what else they needed to successfully exit the boat.
Let's double this figure, even if we triple it taking into account our carelessness, weather and other force majeure circumstances. All the same, in a maximum of a day and a quarter, an operation could begin to withdraw 23 surviving sailors from the Kursk.
The rescue operation could begin with the transfer of the necessary equipment and equipment to the sunken submarine on board through the hatch of the 9th compartment for the subsequent withdrawal of people through it, providing them with the forces of divers - deep divers.
From the top hatch cover to the sea surface it was only 95 meters. Rescue vehicles were supposed to be for all personnel in the compartments, plus a 10% supply, that is, 25-26 pieces, at least. Why did the survivors not attempt to emerge on their own by free ascent while the atmosphere and pressure in the aft compartments were still normal? To me, frankly, it is not very clear. In any case, I would definitely make such an attempt. There was absolutely nothing to lose. Although, perhaps, the surviving officers made the simple calculations given above, and sincerely hoped for outside help?
Perhaps the IDA-75 was not enough for everyone, or they were faulty, or not charged. Perhaps the sailors were not trained to use them, maybe there were wounded on board who were not able to independently leave the sunken submarine. In such an environment, officers could deliberately stay on board. Later, when the pressure, concentration of CO and harmful impurities in the compartments began to increase, an independent exit was no longer possible. I do not exclude that one of the best nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet turned out to be equipped with long-outdated IDA-59 devices, and not accepted for supply to the Navy IDA-75, which made it difficult to independently ascend from such a depth. As always, there are much more questions than answers.
When the fate of the 23 crew members from the aft compartments became clear, the eternal Russian question arose: who is to blame and what to do? Who is to blame for the fact that they were not saved, although the chances, albeit small, apparently were? And most importantly, what to do? Information that knocks from the sunken submarine were recorded for at least two days (according to other sources - three days) have already become public. Many former and current naval officers and civilian specialists can calculate how long it takes to start rescue operations. This means that it is necessary to prove that everyone died within a time frame that excludes any possibility of salvation. From here comes up the figure - 15 o'clock, put down in the note by Lieutenant-Commander Kolesnikov.
The explosion thundered at 11.55, therefore, in three hours with minutes remaining before the death of 23 people, it was impossible to do anything in principle. Excellent! There are no guilty ones.
When Norwegian divers showed footage of the opening of the submarine compartment on TV screens, many people probably remembered the column of air bubbles that escaped from the compartment for quite a long time. There was air in the compartment, and in large quantities. Another thing is its composition. Most likely, the air was already unfit for breathing. But the compartment was not flooded! Why was another lie needed?
After all this, you involuntarily begin to doubt the reliability of the information about the fire in the 9th compartment. Perhaps he was. But what were its causes, scope and consequences? If, as we are assured, three hours and minutes after the explosion, all the submariners remaining on board were killed, then who continued to knock for tens of hours? Secret information! It is hidden from colleagues who died, from their relatives, from the whole world….
What was the boat commander doing?
Another key question. Why did the Kursk commander do nothing to save the nuclear submarine and the crew? Let's believe for a moment the official version about the torpedo tube and the detonation of ammunition from the fragments hitting it. If there was a double explosion, I agree. The commander, the engineer on duty, the Lord God and everyone else in this situation are powerless. But if more than two minutes passed between the first and second explosion, thank you. I don't even ask anyone questions: why did the torpedo explode, which was tested on the shore before loading? Why did the commander, having a faulty torpedo on board, and knowing about it (as reported in the media), did not get rid of it immediately by shooting? Why did the commander not report the emergency on command? And, finally, why did the authorities, knowing about the faulty torpedo, do nothing? Or, perhaps, the command of the fleet itself forbade getting rid of a combat torpedo with oxygen poisoning from it? The questions are purely rhetorical. Nobody will answer anyway.
But explain to me how the fragments of the rear cover of the torpedo tube and torpedo could fly in an explosion two or three meters, separating them from the ammunition on the racks, 135 seconds ?! Why did the fire protection systems not work during these 2 minutes and 15 seconds?
Why didn't the ammunition irrigation system turn on? Why, if the Kursk began to fail after the first explosion (it is believed that only the personnel of the torpedo compartment died in this case), did it lie on the ground with the pull-out devices raised? Why didn't the automatics lower them at a depth of 28-30 meters? Why, having damaged only the first compartment, the submarine not only did not surface, but did not even try to do it? Endless why...
Suppose I was right in my interview on August 16, 2000. Then everything falls into place. How do I see the development of events in those fateful moments? Excuse me. The torpedoes on board are normal. For the above reasons, the concentration of hydrogen in the compartment increases. To everyone who later wrote that hydrogen was released from a peroxide-hydrogen torpedo, and to everyone who believed them, I remind you that hydrogen peroxide decomposes with the release of oxygen, not hydrogen. Explosion of hydrogen-oxygen mixture in the compartment. A strong clap that echoed throughout the Premier League. The beginning of the fire. The ammunition irrigation system and fire fighting systems either do not work, or are not included, or are disabled on purpose. The personnel of the compartment died instantly. Perplexity and confusion reign in the central post of the Kursk. The sturdy hull was not damaged, and the buoyancy was not compromised. The submarine is controlled from the CPU normally. There is no connection with the first compartment. No one is trying to surface, turn on the fire extinguishing and irrigation systems of ammunition from the second compartment. Fruitless attempts to contact the first compartment culminate in a catastrophic explosion…
What is it - complete incompetence? Sluggishness? Fear of bossy anger? Hope for the traditional Russian "maybe"? Who released such a well-trained crew into the sea? Who is to blame for the fact that the crew made one autonomous system in six (!) Years?
From the dead submariners, they began to urgently make heroes, which they did not need at all. Service in submarines in itself is the lot of courageous people, and taking into account the salaries of domestic submariners, it is truly heroic. But who needed the lie that "at the cost of incredible efforts, the crew shut down the reactors and prevented the sea Chernobyl"? Nonsense!
Almost the entire crew died before they could figure out what had happened. Automation has worked. Low bows for this to Soviet scientists and designers (let me remind you that the Kursk was built in the Soviet Union), who laid a "Russian margin of safety" and reliability in the design of the reactor and the entire nuclear submarine.
I am trying to answer one more, last question: could the catastrophe have been prevented? Yes. Forgive the banality, but I affirm that if all those involved in the disaster had followed their job descriptions, the Kursk would have safely moored at its own berth, having brilliantly completed its combat mission. I do not believe in evil fate, in "accidents unforeseen at sea", - Vice Admiral Tengiz Borisov said in an interview with Novye Izvestia.