Barge for hauling Kursk to shore leaves Norway port for disaste

MOSCOW -- The barge that is to haul the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine to shore departed Friday from the Norwegian port of Kirkenes for the disaster site, a top official in the salvage effort said.

An international team of divers has been preparing the Kursk to be lifted from the bottom of the Barents Sea, where it has laid since it sank in August 2000, killing all 118 men on board.

On Friday, the divers were clearing debris from around the holes they cut earlier in the submarine's double hull. Metal supports will be installed in the holes to attach cables that will be used to lift the vessel.

The cables are to be connected to hydraulic lifting devices, anchored to the barge.

"Within the next few days, the clearing will be completed, the barge will be placed above the submarine, and the process of connecting the barge's equipment to the holes of the submarine will begin," Igor Spassky, chief of the Rubin submarine design bureau, said at a news conference in the northern port of Murmansk.

Officials say the actual lifting will take place next Thursday.