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With Bow Almost Severed, Sub Nearly Set to Be Raised

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From Times Wire Services

A Dutch consortium has almost finished cutting the bow of the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine, nearly clearing the key obstacle to raising the vessel to the surface, the group said Wednesday.

“We have completed 99% of the work,” said Larissa van Seumeren, a spokeswoman for Mammoet-Smit International, which is working to lift the Kursk on an estimated $65-million contract with the Russian government.

The ship’s forward compartment was disfigured by the explosions that sank the submarine in the Barents Sea on Aug. 12, 2000, killing all 118 men aboard. Russian officials have said the bow must be cut off before the rest of the Kursk can be raised, because of concern the front section might break up and destabilize the lifting of the vessel.

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Divers have been working for more than a week in icy waters more than 300 feet deep to slice off the bow using robot cutting gear.

Van Seumeren said the consortium expects to raise the submarine to the surface about Sept. 25, after the divers attach cables to 26 holes pierced in the Kursk’s steel hull. The cables will be linked to hydraulic lifting devices anchored to a barge that would hoist the sub to the surface.

Once lifted, the Kursk will be towed to a shipyard near the Russian port of Murmansk, where it will be put in a dry dock.

The Kursk’s two nuclear reactors were automatically shut down when it sank and have reportedly leaked no radiation.

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