April 2001

The Loss of the Submarine KURSK

On August 12, 2000 the Russian nuclear submarine KURSK (K-141) was lost with all hands in the Barents Sea. This tragic loss was particularly felt in the Archangel Oblast.

KURSK was built after the fall of the Soviet Union in the huge Sevmashpredpriyatiye Shipyard in Severodvinsk, only 30 miles west of the City of Archangel. Commissioned in January 1995, KURSK was the most modern of all Russian submarines, carried 24 anti-ship guided cruise missiles and was the pride of the new Russian Navy. The submarine was homeported in Severomorsk, near Murmansk and about 200 miles northwest of the City of Archangel. The submarine was named to commemorate the successful Russian defeat of Hitler's Army in the Battle of Kursk (a city 300 miles southwest of Moscow) in July 1943. This Battle was the largest tank battle in the history of warfare and the victory has become legendary in Russian history.

On board KURSK when she was lost was her 45 year old Captain Gennady Lyachin; five senior officers from the Northern Fleet Headquarters who were observing operations; and 112 regular crew members from all over Russia. Eight young men from the Archangel Oblast:

Senior Lieutenant Maxim Rvanin (24) - From the City of Archangel; he was promoted in 1999 for superior performance in engineering.

Senior Lieutenant Sergey Uzkiy (24) - From Severodvinsk; he was promoted in 1999 for superior performance in cruise missiles.

Senior Lieutenant Alexi Ivanov-Oavlov (24) - From the Ukraine.

Petty Officer Yakov Samovarov (22) - From Holmogory; he was known as the "heart and soul of the crew".

Petty Officer Sergey Gryaznih (22) - From Severodvinsk; he left a wife (22) and a son (6 months).

Seaman Alexi Shulgin (19) -.From Kotlas; he joined the Navy in October 1999.

Seaman Andre Druchenko (19) - From Severodvinsk; he joined the Navy in June 1999 and his mother worked in the shipyard that built KURSK.

Seaman Andre Korkin (19) - From the City of Archangel; his family was relieved that he had joined the Navy instead of the Army because he would have been sent to Chechnya.

On August 22, 2000, the Archangel Committee sent a message of condolence to the Archangel Regional Administration which read in part:

"The people of Greater Portland, Maine and all of the United States of America send our sincere sympathy to the Russian people on the tragic loss of the KURSK and her crew of 118 brave men. Most people in the United States have been watching the television every night for the last 10 days hoping for news of a happy rescue. But now all hope is lost for rescue and we send our prayers for the sailors and best wishes for the families."

On September 18, 2000, the Deputy Chairman of the Archangel Regional Administration sent the following message to our Archangel Committee:

"Let me on behalf of the Russian people thank you for the words of sincere sympathy concerning the loss of the submarine KURSK. We all take hard this tragedy but we know that we are not alone in our grief. People from different parts of the world support us and what is valuable we feel this support. We are sure we will overcome it. Once more let me thank you for your concern."

On March 12, 2001, Raymond Pelletier (the Vice Co-Chair of the Archangel Committee) visited the homes of the two families in the City of Archangel who lost a relative on the KURSK. Ray was assisted by a representative of the Mayor's Office. Ray delivered a letter of sympathy and $200 to each of the families from our Committee and he writes:

"On behalf of the Archangel Committee I delivered to each of the families of Senior Lt. Maxim Rvanin and sailor Aleksei Korkin a sympathy card containing two hundred dollars, together with a letter signed by Neale from the Archangel Committee. On each occasion I met with the mother of the deceased. Both of the sailors were unmarried but are survived by siblings. Both of the apartments are in the usual concrete apartment buildings typical of Russian cities. Needless to say, the visits were quite somber and sad. There was no sign that the pain of losing a child had eased in any way. Both mothers showed me pictures of their sons, but this act alone was obviously quite painful and I tried not to prolong my visit. Both mothers expressed, their deep gratitude for the support and help from the people of Maine."

Two days later on March 14, 2001, the largest daily newspaper in tile City of Archangel printed the following story:

Friends Manifest Themselves in Time of Trouble

The incident with the Russian nuclear submarine KURSK was felt close to the heart of residents of the American City of Greater Portland, a long-standing Sister City of Arkhangelsk.

Having learned that among the crew of the KURSK were several persons from Arkhangelsk and the oblast, they expressed a desire to somehow offer material assistance to the families of the deceased sailors from our oblast center. So the Arkhangelsk Committee of Greater Portland raised money for them.

An occasion for demonstrating feelings of friendship soon materialized. There is presently here in the City a delegation of American jurists from the State of Maine, who are participating in a seminar in the legal clinic of Pomor University. Included in the delegation are two co-chairpersons of the above-named Committee Raymond Pelletier and Neale Duffett.

One of them, R. Pelletier, personally delivered to the homes of the families of former sailor Alexi Korkin and Senior Lieutenant Maxim Rvanin two hundred dollars each.

Obviously, in the grand scheme no amount of monetary assistance can improve the plight of the relatives of our deceased young countrymen. But the knowledge that unknown friends from abroad are sharing their pain, nevertheless makes it a little easier to bear.

If you are interested in contributing money to help cover the $400 donation from our Committee, please make your tax deductible checks payable to the "Archangel Committee" and mail them to Archangel Committee, KURSK Relief Fund, P.O. Box 105, Portland ME 04112.

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Last modified: June 14, 2015