The Kursk had gone down in August 2000 following a pair of explosions approximately two minutes apart. Theories include a collision with another submarine or a defective torpedo exploding and detonating other munitions that destroyed the bow and sank the vessel. The real cause may never be known. On October 7th October 2001, the 10,000-metric-ton Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, with two nuclear reactors and 20 missiles aboard, began a slow ascent from its watery tomb 108 meters, or 350 feet, below the Barents Sea.
A Dutch team, racing against the weather, engineered the salvage operation that let the Russians take home their dead. Usually, a project this size takes almost a year to complete. The shrunken schedule put virtually every element in the project on a critical path and it took 2,000 employees to pull it together. It had taken five months of hard work, 16 hours of lifting, and 41 hours of towing, but the Kursk had finally come home. Retrieving the Kursk was an emotional, as well as political, event for Russia; 118 crew members had died in the sunken submarine, some immediately, some after waiting more than 24 hours for a rescue that never came.