In August 2000, the Russian Navy conducted its first major exercise since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The exercise involved 30 ships and three submarines in the Barents Sea, north of Norway’s coast.
One of the participating ships was the nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk. The submarine was Russia’s military crown jewel because it was said to be unsinkable and could withstand a direct hit from a torpedo.
But on August 12, 2000, during training, an explosion occurred and the Kursk sank a hundred meters deep.
The crew survived the blast
In the following days, Russia attempted to rescue 118 people ashore. Countries like Britain, France, Germany and Norway tried to offer their help, but Russia initially refused.
Norwegian deep-sea divers finally came to the rescue and managed to open the Kursk, but it was too late. The submarine filled with water and all 118 people on board died.
But some of them survived the blast. In one part of the submarine, the sailors were able to find the letters they had written to their relatives when they were stranded in the dark wreckage waiting for help.
The event received great attention in Russia and the rest of the world. But the newly elected president, Vladimir Putin, chose to stay at his summer cottage when the incident took place, drawing much criticism in his home country.
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