• What probably happened (nobody knows exactly what happened) is that a fire broke out in the torpedo room. Because the fire couldn't be contained, it set off an explosion in one of the warheads causing all the other warheads to explode. The kind of hole that would be produced from this explosion is consistent with the hole found on the Kursk.
  • The Kursk was probably torpedoed by the American Attack-Class Submarine USS Memphis after being accidently rammed by another American sub, the USS Toledo. If not in possession of a new high speed torpedo type called the Shkval, The Kursk would have surfaced after the attack but chosed not to compromise the technology and therefore positioned itself on the bottom, thereby sacrificing the crew instead of the risk of compromising military hardware.
  • The above is a conspiracy theory that comes from "Kursk: a Submarine in Troubled Waters", a film by a french filmmaker Jean-Michel Carre. Here's a short list of inconsistencies: 1. A Russian Oscar class submarine has twice the submerged displacement (physical mass) of a Los Angeles-class submarine; it is therefore not credible from a fundamental physics perspective that the Kursk would have sustained the far worse damage in such a hypothetical collision. 2. U.S. peacetime rules of engagement (ROE) would not in any way have permitted the U.S. submarine to fire upon the Kursk without first being fired upon, and no credible argument has been made by anyone for that scenario. 3. If the alleged collision had actually taken place, the proximity of the colliding U.S. submarine to the Kursk would have prevented the other U.S. submarine captain-even a fictional "renegade" one-from firing a MK-48 (which uses acoustic homing for target acquisition) torpedo at the Kursk; this would have equally endangered the USS Toledo. 4. The idea that a U.S. torpedo would be capable of 'hitting' an on-board Russian torpedo-which only later detonated-is improbable; torpedoes function by getting near their target and then detonating their massive warheads, crushing the target with the force of the explosion. No weapon in any nation's submarine force makes a small hole like the claimed entry hole. (source: Wikipedia) Further two problems: 1) There doesn't seem to be many arguments supporting a desicion not to surface a crippled submarine. As said above - "chosed[sic] not to compromise the technology". That would mean that they expected the Americans to forcefully board the ship - improbable in full-scale Russian military games, as such are heavily monitored by, but not limited to, space sattelites (and not only the Russian ones!). Such an act would have been an open act of war. 2) Why did the Russian governemnt have to supress the evidence if they were not the ones at fault? As the U-2 Spy Plane Incident of 1960 showed, publisizing such an accident would have been politically beneficial to the Russian side and harmnfull to the Americans, which would obviously held responsible
  • Although it has never been admitted to, it would seem most likely that some sort of collision took place, an accident which set up a chain of events that led to the loss of the Kursk and her crew. Just because the mass of the Kursk was much greater than the USS Toledo doesn't automatically mean the US submarine would be destroyed and the Kursk left unaffected in every collision scenario. The first divers down reported seeing large gouges along the top of the Kursk, and some damage to her tail fin, damage which wasn't consistent with the 2 explosions or impact with the sea bed, but with the Kursk colliding with a large underwater object. The USS Toledo was seen leaving the general area of the Barents Sea and made her way, at low speed, to a Norwegian port, one not usually outfitted for servicing large nuclear submarines. Russian satellite images appeared to show she had sustained severe damage to her bow. The Toledo later sailed to a covered dock at Southampton in the UK. The "torpedo hole" originally shown on Russian state television when the Kursk was recovered to dry dock, and which formed the basis of a conspiracy theory that the Kursk was torpedoed by one of the US submarines, was probably a result of the collision. It was located in the centre of a larger concave depression, a visible 'thump' to the Kursk's outer (thinner) hull, and the hole's rim was bent inwards along one edge, with the edges melted, perhaps by the friction involved. A collision could have led to a fire and explosion onboard the Kursk. It may even have caused an instability in the HCT test torpedo, which the official inquiry blamed for the disaster. The Kursk was found with her periscope up, indicating the Captain intended to surface, but the Kursk may have taken on water after the first explosion, and plunged to the sea bed in relatively shallow waters, but with enough momentum to plough her bow 2 metres into the sea bed and detonate several of her warheads with the force of the 14,000 ton nose-down impact. Shortly after the disaster President Clinton wrote off $12 billion of Russian debt, the so-called "Pentagon's missing millions", this was probably to appease Putin and stave off a serious international incident. The Russians were basically compensated over the loss of their flagship submarine with all hands due to the recklessness of the American hit & run submarine commander. There has been a long history of US submarines colliding with Russian submarines, the US government even admitted to one such event, but on this occasion, with a total loss resulting from it, it would be thought politically wise to keep quiet and play it like it had been an internal accident.
  • The USS Toledo may well have been damaged in that area, but it certainly wasn't in a collision with the Kursk. The Russians dropped depth charges in that area in the days after the Kursk sank, to drive away US subs that were trying to get as much information as possible as to what was happening. It is more likely that the Toledo was damaged by those charges than a collision. A collision would have destroyed the Toledo long before it destroyed the Kursk.
  • Well, it's nine years later now, and the exact cause is still not known, though they have a pretty good idea of what probably cause it. She was NOT: - torpedoed by the USS Memphis, as Liston posted. Nor by any other submarine, US or otherwise. - rammed by the USS Toledo, as Liston posted. Nor by any other submarine, US or otherwise. The Toledo has never been involved in any collision, submarine or otherwise. Even if so, the Toledo would have suffered tremendous damage herself and would certainly have needed extensive repairs in a shipyard, none of which ever happened. The Soviet maneuvers being performed at the time were in very shallow waters...and there were reasons for this, too. One of which is that it would preclude submarine operations by other nations in the area, because there would have been literally NO room for them to maneuver obove, under, or around the various Soviet submarines and surface ships in the area. One must remember that the Kursk sank in slightly more than 300 feet of water. How to put this into perspective? The Kursk was 472 feet long. If you could have stood her up on end, about 150 feet of the ship would have been out of the water. That's FIFTEEN STORIES ABOVE THE WATER. The Kursk was 60 feet in diameter, not counting the height of her sail. Assuming about 20 feet for the sail, that means 80 feet from keel to top of her sail. Now, one would think that this still leaves a smidgen over 200 feet of water to operate in. But we still haven't taken into account the drafts of the surface ships in the area, which can easily be 30 feet or more. And then toss in the fact that the depth will vary somewhat over a given area. So significantly LESS than 200 feet of water would be below the Kursk's keel at any given time, when you throw in margins for error. For the BEST depth control, a submarine should be moving through the water. Subs can, and do, hover in place, but maneuverability is sacrificed when they do this. So the Kursk was operating within an extremely limited operating envelope in the first place. US submarines, when departing port, do not submerge in peace time until they pass the 100 fathom curve. This is because submarine operations in shallow waters is NOT as simple as the uninitated would assume. Operating too close to the bottom, for example, means one must compensate for the effects of hydrodynamics more as ship's speed increases. The effect is to pull the submarine into to ocean bottom if you're not too careful. Here's a demonstration for you: Place two books, about an inch apart thick and three or four inches apart. Lay a sheet of paper across the gap. Now, get down and close and blow a gentle breath of air under the paper and see what happens. The paper will flex downward as the air passes between the paper and the table top. This same effect is felt with submarines operating close to the ocean floor, and is why they do not do it if at all possible. The Kursk was lifted from the ocean floor in 2001 and drydocked. No signs of any collision were ever found, likewise no signs of being torpedoed. The ship was obviously the victim of an onboard explosion, the cause most likely caused by a chemical explosion initiated by leakage of torpedo propellant. The explosion, and subsequent detonation of several warheads in the ensuing conflagration, blew the front end of the ship off and killed everyone except those in the aft most compartment. Those in the engineroom died some time later, after the loss of power, and it appears that the final cause of their deaths was triggered by an accidental explosion/fire when a sailor somehow submerged some emergency potassium superoxide cartridges (which absorbe CO2 and release O2 in the presence of moisture) in water contaminated with oil. The oil caused these cartridges to explode, which rapidly used up the remaining oxygen. Several burned bodies were discovered in the engineroom, and a few who evidently excaped burning by diving under water...only to suffocate when the fire used up the remaining oxygen. Every man aboard, all 118 Sailors, died. God rest their souls.

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