The Sinking of the Kursk, Russia's Super-Torpedo and the New Threat from China

" There are no known countermeasures to such a weapon."  

compiled by John Vennari

The Kursk which sank in 354 feet of water in the Barents Sea on August 12 with 118 on board, was an Oscar II-type nuclear cruise missile submarine " the leading submarine participating in the largest naval exercise the Russian North Fleet had staged in a decade.

The vessel, according to the London-based Soviet Analyst, was engaged in the mock sinking of US submarines and aircraft carriers, and was under observation by two US submarines located some 50 miles from the scene, together with several other allied monitoring vessels.

The Kursk was also testing a new weapons system, a superfast torpedo that travels at speeds of over 230 mph.

Scientific American reported in its May edition that the supersophisticated torpedoes have been linked to the sinking of the Kursk last August, and even to the arrest and imprisonment of Edmond Pope.

Pope, an American businessman, was charged by Russian authorities with spying, specifically that he had sought to buy plans for the " Ultrahigh-speed torpedo.”

" Evidence does suggest" said Scientific American, " that both incidents revolved around an amazing and little-reported technology that allows naval weapons and vessels to travel submerged at hundreds of miles per hour " in some cases, faster than the speed of sound in water.

The new technology that allows for these superfast torpedoes " is based on the physical phenomenon of supercavitation.

According to Scientific American, the new generation of torpedoes, some believed capable of carrying nuclear warheads, are surrounded by a " renewable envelope of gas so that the liquid wets very little of the body's surface, thereby drastically reducing the viscous drag" on the torpedo.

The new technology " could mean a quantum leap in naval warfare that is analogous in some ways to the move from prop planes to jets or even to rockets and missiles.

In 1997 Russia announced that it had developed a high-speed unguided underwater torpedo, which has no equivalent in the West. Code-named the Shkval or " quall," the Russian torpedo reportedly travels so fast that no U.S. defense can stop it.

In late 2000, after the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk, new reports began circulating that the Chinese navy had bought the Shkval torpedo.

" The Shkval" stated Richard Fisher, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, " was designed to give Soviet subs with less capable sonar the ability to kill U.S. submarines before U.S. wire-guided anti-sub torpedoes could reach their target. The Chinese navy would certainly want to have this kind of advantage over U.S. subs in the future. At the speed that it travels, the Shkval could literally punch a hole in most U.S. ships, with little need for an explosive warhead.

" This torpedo travels at a speed of 200 knots, or five to six times the speed of a normal torpedo, and is especially suited for attacking large ships such as aircraft carriers," Fisher said.

Though the exact cause of the sinking of the Kursk was never officially stated, the Associated Press reported in January that seismic analysis of shock waves suggests that two successive onboard explosions destroyed the submarine. " The first explosion was relatively small, consistent with a misfiring torpedo aboard the submarine Kursk" said a report by Arizona and New Mexico researchers published in the January 23 geophysical journal Eos. The blast was followed about two minutes later by a second blast 250 times larger than the first"  the researchers said.

" The size of the second explosion was so great" said the study, " that it is unlikely any submariner could have survived the corresponding pressure pulse.

As for the Shkval, it is a 6,000-pound rocket torpedo, about 27 feet long with a range of about 7,500 yards. It can fly through the water at more than 230 miles an hour.

The solid-rocket-propelled " torpedo" achieves this high speed by producing a high-pressure stream of bubbles from its nose and skin, which coats the weapon in a thin layer of gas. The Shkval flies underwater inside a giant " envelope" of gas bubbles in a process called " Supercavitation.

The Shkval is so fast that it is guided by an autopilot rather than by a homing head as on most torpedoes. The original Shkval was designed to carry a tactical nuclear warhead detonated by a simple timer clock. However, the Russians recently began advertising a homing version, which runs out at very high speed, then slows to search for its target.

" If there are no known countermeasures to such a weapon," stated David Miler in an April 1995 article " Supercavitation Going to War in a Bubble" (Jane's Intelligence Review) " Its development could have significant effect on future maritime operations, both surface and subsurface, and could be put Western naval forces at a considerable disadvantage.

Scientific American reports that China has purchased around 40 Shkval torpedoes from Kazakstan, " raising the possibility that Beijing could threaten American naval forces in a future confrontation in the Taiwan Strait." The magazine also says that a Chinese submarine officer was on board the ill-fated Kursk " to observe the test of the new version of the Shkval.

This report makes clear that Russia has not converted, nor is the world on the threshold the peace that will mark the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

On the contrary, Russia is perfecting cutting-edge weaponry of which the West has no equivalent. It sells this weaponry to Communist China, a nation whose military arsenal is growing at an alarming rate.

(Nuclear Disaster Looms)

The need for the Pope, in union with the world's bishops, to Consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is more urgent than ever. Only by this means, said Our Lady of Fatima, will Russia be converted, the threat of the annihilation of nations be averted, and a period of peace granted to the world.