MOSCOW -- A Dutch consortium has almost finished cutting the bow of the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine, nearly clearing the key obstacle for raising it to the surface, the group said Wednesday.
"We have completed 99 percent of the work," said Larissa van Seumeren, a spokeswoman for the Mammoet-Smit International, which is working to lift the Kursk on an estimated $65 million contract with the Russian government.
The first 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 say the bow must be cut off before the rest of the Kursk can be raised, because of concern it may break up and destabilize the lifting.
Van Seumeren said the consortium expects to raise the submarine around Sept. 25.
rsk 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 leaked no radiation, but Russian officials say it's necessary to raise the submarine to avert a potential radiation hazard to the area's rich fishing grounds.
The Navy also hopes that the lifting will help determine the cause of the explosions.