In August, the Russian Oscar 2-class (Project 949A) missile submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea during a naval exercise. She had just fired a missile (presumably an SS-N-19 cruise weapon). She was scheduled to fire a torpedo, although it is not clear whether she had done so because she never radioed confirmation of the firing. Two explosions, about two minutes apart, were reported, followed by flooding noises. Speculation has been that something went catastrophically wrong at that point. Either before or after firing the torpedo, the submarine dove into the sea bottom at a depth of about 100 meters (330 feet). It is possible that the submarine successfully fired a torpedo and the two reported explosions were not directly connected to her loss. If the exercises were intended to demonstrate the Russian Navy's firepower, then one would expect the torpedo to hit a target, and it would be no surprise if the target carried a bit of extra explosive to make the hit more spectacular (a technique once used successfully in a missile test by a Western manufacturer to sell an antiship missile to a Western navy).
World Naval Developments: What Happened to the Kursk?
By Norman Friedman