The “Kursk” Disaster: 10 Years After

Ten years ago, the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk sunk; 118 submariners lost their lives. The “Kursk” disaster was – besides the accident as such – a multifold debacle: Russia was not able to save its submariners; the relief operation was – to put it mildly- very chaotic; and even raising the hull had to be done by the Dutch companies Mammoet and Smit Internationale. About one year ago, at least the long-planned and eagerly awaited memorial was unveiled in Murmansk: central element of the monument is the sail (command tower) of the submarine that was raised in 2001.

The way to its realisation was far from being easy: For a long time, nothing happened except for declarations of intent. But more than eight years after the sinking, journalist Tatyana Abramova from the newspaper Murmanskiy Vestnik discovered the sail at a scrap metal merchant. Nearly nine years after the disaster, the memorial was finally unveiled. In mid-December 2009, the monument was already damaged: unknown persons stole the inscription ”For submariners who have died in peacetime”. It is now open for speculation if they had been scrap metal thieves, vandals, or rather people who were disatisfied with the quite general inscription, in which the “Kursk” is mentioned more indirectly

Even ten years after the disaster, many questions remain open. The catastrophe could even repeat itself: the fleet’s condition is distressing. The culture of remembrance is on one hand shaped by many individual actions, on the other hand by official ones. The accusations of the bereaved that responsibility had not been taken (which continues to be) is hardly brushed aside with a few wreaths.

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