Russian submarine K-141 Kursk

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K-141 Kursk was an Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine of the Russian Navy, lost with all hands when it sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000. Kursk, full name Атомная подводная лодка «Курск», which translated, means the nuclear powered submarine "Курск" [АПЛ "Курск"] in Russian, was a Project 949A Антей (Antey, Antaeus but was also known by its NATO reporting name of Oscar II). It was named after the Russian city Kursk, around which the largest tank battle in military history, the Battle of Kursk, took place in 1943. One of the first vessels completed after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was commissioned into the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet.

Contents

Background

Work on building the submarine Kursk began in 1990 at Severodvinsk, near Arkhangelsk. Launched in 1994, it was commissioned in December of that year. It was the penultimate of the large Oscar-II class submarines to be designed and approved in the Soviet era. At 154m long and four stories high it was the largest attack submarine ever built. The outer hull, made of high-nickel, high-chrome content stainless steel 8.5 mm thick, had exceptionally good resistance to corrosion and a weak magnetic signature which helped prevent detection by Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) systems. There was a two-metre gap to the 50.8 cm thick steel inner hull.[citation needed]

Kursk was part of Russia's Northern Fleet, which had suffered funding cutbacks throughout the 1990s. Many of its submarines were anchored and rusting in Andreyeva Bay, 100 km from Murmansk.[1] Little work to maintain all but the most essential front-line equipment, including search and rescue equipment, had occurred. Northern Fleet sailors had gone unpaid in the mid-1990s. The end of the decade saw something of a renaissance for the fleet; in 1999, Kursk carried out a successful reconnaissance mission in the Mediterranean, tracking the US Navy's Sixth Fleet during the Kosovo War. August 2000's training exercise was to have been the largest summer drill — nine years after the Soviet Union's collapse — involving four attack submarines, the fleet's flagship Pyotr Velikiy ("Peter the Great") and a flotilla of smaller ships.

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