US sank the Kursk claims

Daniel Stacey, London
May 09, 2005
A FORMER British military official has backed a sensational claim that the Russian nuclear submarine, the Kursk, was torpedoed by US forces in August 2000.

An official inquest concluded that the disaster – in which all 118 crew drowned in the Barents Sea, 135km off the Russian coast – was caused by an accidental explosion of an onboard torpedo.

But Maurice Stradling, a former torpedo engineer and a key figure in the original investigation, believes a new French documentary, The Kursk: A Submarine in Troubled Waters, should change world opinion on the sinking.

"On the balance of probabilities, the Kursk was sunk by an American MK-48 torpedo," said Mr Stradling, formerly a senior member of the British Defence Ministry.

BBC editor Nick Fraser called the claim a "pack of lies" and has refused to air the documentary, which attracted a record audience of more than 4 million when it screened on French TV.

The BBC used Mr Stradling as its main authority for a documentary it made in 2001 – What Sank the Kursk?, in which Mr Stradling theorised that the sinking was caused by the malfunctioning of an old-fashioned HTP torpedo.

Mr Stradling, who also appears in the new French documentary, said: "At the time (2001), that was a perfectly reasonable film, given the facts as we knew them then, when there seemed to be no third-party involvement,"

The new explanation for the Kursk's downing is based on film footage of a hole in the side of the vessel, and evidence placing US submarines in the area at the time it was sunk.

The French film shows stills of the Kursk raised above the water after being salvaged, with a precise circular hole in its right side. The hole clearly bends inwards, consistent with an attack from outside the submarine.

A US military source in the documentary declares the hole to be the trademark evidence of an American MK-48 torpedo, which is made to melt cleanly through steel sheet due to a mechanism at its tip that combusts copper.

The film suggests the attack happened while two US submarines, the Toledo and Memphis, were shadowing the Kursk in a routine military exercise.

The documentary says the Toledo accidentally collided with the Kursk, at which point the Russian submarine opened its torpedo tubes, leading to an attack from the Memphis, which was protecting the damaged Toledo while it retreated.

The cause of the sinking was covered up at the time in an act of diplomacy between then US presidents Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin – a deal that included the cancellation of $US10 billion ($12.5 billion) of Russian debt, the film states.

After the documentary received its only public broadcast in Britain, some claimed the Russian navy had drilled the hole and fed doctored footage to the film-makers to create a false impression.
Bloody Frenchies!!! The mothers of Subversion if you ask me.

Not to sure if we will ever know the real truth. The yanks will never own upto it and the Russians would never admit that they got hit by the US.

It's a good story though.
an underwater 'Blue on Blue', involving the Americans? never!! A cover up by the Americans? never!!
Sorry to the conspiracy theorists, but the result is very well known. And no I'm not even going to waste my time getting the link for you! The Kursk sank because of a torpedo fuel explosion rupturing the pressure vessel causing massive flooding. Even the Russians have accepted the evidence. There is absolutely no evidence to support the theory of a torpedo attack on the boat.

A very nasty way to die, but at least for most of the crew it was very quick.
I didn’t see the documentary but as it was French and came up with an anti US conclusion it sounds like a complete load of arrse. What did it say about the survivors of the initial explosion and their account of a fire and no mention of an attack? I would also guess, although I am willing to be corrected, that if a sub, no matter how new or big, got a good hit from a Mk 48 at 300 m down then it would go up (or in) in a oner, not hang around for a few minutes to allow hatches to be close. Undoubtedly there were reports for other Russian vessels who heard the Mk 48 being fired and its run to the Kursk. Or is that asking too much from the cheese eating surrender monkeys?
Was there ever any weapon better made for conspiracy theory than the submarine? It's this silly sort of story that makes some submariners think they are so cool....
Forgive my ignorance but if this boat is one of Russia's newest,would'nt it have advanced sensor's to warn them of an aproaching torpedo threat?,and would they not then launch counter measures?,and a stock take of the bouys discharged could give them an indication of wether the crew then took evasive measures.

Do sub's have a 'cockpit voice recorder"?


There were notes left by the crew who had collected aft (I think). They mentioned the explosion forward, a fire but absolutely nothing about a torpedo hit. The bow section was not recovered (as far as I know) because of the heavy damage inflicted and was left on the bottom of the Barents Sea. The Kursk was raised minus the damaged bit. Could the Norwegian divers have done some judicious cutting in this area not to make it look like a torpedo hit but as a result of freeing other gear or creating a hold for lifting gear?
I have never met Mr Stradling but I have met dozens of so-called MOD experts of this ilk. They are tweed-jacketed, national health glass wering, beardy-wierdies to a man. They retire on their index-linked pensions and then set themselves up as "consultants". They have the appetite for a conspiracy of The Lone Gunmen and the ability to critically debate of a four year old.

Their influence on DRA/DERA/Qinetiq is most easily distinguished in the way in which seventies technology filters through to the field army in the nineties, eighties technology cetera..when off-the-shelf items are available elsewhere at fractions of the cost.

An amusing tarradiddle one feels?
I may not be an Andrew, but don't torpedos aim at the screw end of the sub, i.e . the noisey bit. Causes more damage and cracks the prop shaft for good measure. The Kursk explosion was in the nose area. A bit unlikely for a torpedo.
mussolini93 said:
I may not be an Andrew, but don't torpedos aim at the screw end of the sub, i.e . the noisey bit. Causes more damage and cracks the prop shaft for good measure. The Kursk explosion was in the nose area. A bit unlikely for a torpedo.
Plus the rather obvious clue that the rupture in the nose section was from the inside going outwards.

Mr Happy

MikeMcc said:
mussolini93 said:
I may not be an Andrew, but don't torpedos aim at the screw end of the sub, i.e . the noisey bit. Causes more damage and cracks the prop shaft for good measure. The Kursk explosion was in the nose area. A bit unlikely for a torpedo.
Plus the rather obvious clue that the rupture in the nose section was from the inside going outwards.
Errrm no, thats heat seaking air to airs. Torps paint with sonar in their final run in and hit what they can see. At least that was the case and M48's are older than most soldiers these days so I suspect that holds no water here... rather unlike certain Ruskie subs hahahah

I recall the Brit BBC/ITV doc. at the time about what happened (basically the same issue with torp fuel sunk/damaged one or two brit subs in the 50-60's).

I don't think this theory is true esp. given the US chain of command re ROE but the Ruskie reaction afterwards (NOT blaming the west, drugging a complaining mother in the town meeting etc) was slightly wierd, but then that's Ruskies for you.... Mad as a cut snake the lot of them.
I had thought that with the titanium hull of the Kursk type subs you'd need Nuke to zap them.
Must admit, I never completely bought the exploding torpedo explanation. It seemed that the investigators were making the accident fit the evidence rather than the other way round, and it didn't explain why the problem of exploding torpedoes hadn't been picked up in 50 years with half the world using the same design.

Having said that, wasn't opening the tubes a standard ploy in the Cold War cat and mouse games both sides played for half a century? It doesn't seem reasonable that a US sub would suddenly panic and press the red button, especially in these days of 'peace'.

Oh and yes, I am an expert. I've seen 'Red October'... :)


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Awol said:
Oh and yes, I am an expert. I've seen 'Red October'... :)
I've read the training manual as well as see the Training Wing video. Goodness knows how James Bond became a Ruskie sub commanders, perhaps he can help with an explanation.
Awol said:
...and it didn't explain why the problem of exploding torpedoes hadn't been picked up in 50 years with half the world using the same design.
As I understand it, very few people use Hydrogen Peroxide in their torpedoes nowadays. Most are either batteries or some other fuel (the USN and I suspect some others use a compound called OTTO which needs no oxidant to burn but is very hard to ignite).
And the problem with exploding torpedoes is nothing new. HMS Sidon sank in harbour in 1955 after a Hydrogen Peroxide torpedo exploded, and the most plausible theory I've seen jet for the sinking of the USS Scorpion involves a fire caused by an overheating torpedo battery.
Mk48 ADCAP is relatively new and is continually updated.

It was the now retired, and hugely expensive, 'Alfa' class (known as "the Golden Whale" by Russian sailors) that had titanium hulls, the 'Oscars' like Kursk use hardened steel. Incidentally, the Alfas were the fastest-diving, deepst running subs ever seen (that we know of).

Quite why the US should wish to attack a vessel from the one country that could give them a good, proper, thermonuclear tw@tting in return is beyond me. The documentary I saw on Kursk was quite specific that, when loading up before the exercise, a torpedo was damaged by being dropped on the ground, but was taken aboard anyway, and this was by far the most likely cause of the accident.

Mr Happy

Sinking of the Kursk.

A major crisis faced by Putin, early in his term of office was the August 12, 2000 Kursk submarine disaster. The Kursk sank in a naval exercise that was intended the show the world that Russian military power was resurgent. When the nuclear-powered submarine sank in the Barents Sea, Putin was seen to be dithering, dressed in holiday attire at the Black Sea resort of Socchi. Russia’s top military chiefs also had an air of lethargy about them and gave the impression that they were more interested in Russian pride than the lives of the sailors.

Both the military and the President initially managed this crisis very badly. The Presidential Press Service, the President’s official medium of communication with the outside world, was seemingly absent from the President’s side on this crucial occasion. After the initial shock and lethargy, as a result of the shock wore off, the government’s PR mechanism began to function more efficiently once more. The government chose the ground of the information struggle. In this instance, the accident occurred in the open ocean and press briefings were delivered at a naval base of Vidyayevo. Both of these locations are difficult to access for ordinary citizens (or media personnel) due to their situation, this ensured that the government was able to act more effectively in the capacity as the gatekeeper in this incident.

The Kursk sank on August 12, the navy announced to the public the loss of the submarine on August 13. But, it was not until the 14th of August that a rescue attempt was launched and the 16th of August when Russia officially requested foreign help. By the time that Putin returned to Moscow from Socchi on the 18th of August, the reputation of the authorities were in tatters. The same day, a Russian newspaper published a list of those who had been onboard the Kursk. On the 22nd of August Putin met the families of the Kursk’s crew. Putin admitted to a “feeling of guilt and responsibility”, but at the same time attacking the media magnates for making political capital out of the disaster on TV. He also declared the 23rd of August as a national day of mourning for the crew of the Kursk.

Although the naval base is a restricted area, some media personnel did manage to get access to it. The paper that had published the names of the crew, Komsomolskaya Pravda had managed to do so by bribing a naval officer with 18, 000 roubles (US$650) for the list. Further damage, in addition to the inability of the Russian navy to perform a successful rescue occurred on the 18th of August. From an official point of view, the dramatic TV news footage of one of the sailor’s mother, Nadezhda Tylik being sedated by officials was a total PR disaster. She had been berating the Deputy Prime Minister, Ilya Klebanov during the public meeting. When this footage was made public on the 24th of August, accusations flew that this was a blatant attempt by the authorities to stifle criticism. However, in a subsequent interview with The Times on August 29, Tylik stated that she was given the injection at the request of her husband for an existing medical condition and was not forcibly injected as was previously suggested in the media.

A long-time news director and later president of NTV, Oleg Dobrodeev, left the station in early 2000. He was appointed by Putin to head RTR, a state channel. The station’s coverage of the Chechen War proved to be entirely loyal to the Kremlin. The level of trust which Putin’s administration had placed in Dobrodeev was shown in August 2000. After the Kursk sank in August 2000, only RTR was allowed close to the scene of the accident and in Putin’s meeting with the grieving relatives. Dobrodeev ensured that he would not fail his political masters in this very sensitive task, by personally editing anything, which may have proved to be politically damaging for Putin.

The way in which the officials handled the disaster contributed greatly to the loss of credibility, especially for the Russian navy. Officers of the naval command lied for a week after the sinking, claiming that evidence existed that some of the men were still alive. This resulted in the creation of a false set of hopes that a miracle rescue could still occur. Another scenario planted by the naval command was that the sinking was the result of a collision with a mystery foreign submarine, either the result of accident or design. With regard to the collision theory, the authorities later shrugged this off as the result of bad ‘sensationalist’ reporting in the press. New claims were quickly made when old stories were either discredited or suffered from a lack of interest. Some claims made by the navy command to the press bordered on the ridiculous, as one particular statement made after the lack of interest in the mystery foreign submarine theory.

“If we raise and carefully sift through the iron of the first compartment, it is not excluded that fragments of an American M-48 torpedo will be discovered there. Or of a new analogue unknown to us for now …”

In an interview with filmmakers, during the shooting of the film Vladimir Putin: Leap Year (which was shown on RTR in June 2001), Putin described the Kursk incident as the worst experience he had endured during his first year as President. In contrast to the manner in which the Kursk sinking was managed by the authorities, a lot of effort was spent on making the salvage operation seem to be an open process. A special ‘press boat’ shipped nearly one hundred journalists to the site of the sinking. Engineers in charge of the operation held press conferences and released computer simulations of the events, as they were expected to unfold. The special website was established in this show of openness. Igor Botnikov, the Kremlin Press officer accompanying the journalists on the boat heading for the salvage operation declared that; “We have invited the world’s journalists to what is going on here in the Barents Sea to show we have

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