I'm Larry King. Don't go away.
KING: We've been doing this every night, getting you an update on the tragedy that could befall the Russian submarine, the Kursk.
Joining us now, as he did last night by phone, is Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen. He's commander of the joint forces of northern Norway. He's a submariner. And he's coordinating Norwegians' part of this effort. And in our bureau in Washington is Commodore Nick Harris, British embassy Navy defense attache, a submariner himself.
According to Russian television, gentlemen, Russian rescuers successfully docked with the Kursk on Friday, but the escape hatch could not be opened because the platform was so damaged. And a British sub is on the way with Norwegian divers, and they're going to go down to look.
Is that the correct information? We'll start with Admiral Skorgen. Is that what's going to happen?
VICE ADMIRAL EINAR SKORGEN, COMMANDER OF JOINT FORCES OF NORTHERN NORWAY: Yes. Certainly. That is what's going to happen. We hope we will have our divers down at that submarine maybe in the next 20 hours. Both ships are now steaming along the north Norwegian coast towards the area. And we are starting up having meetings between the Russian diving specialists, the British and the Norwegians within six hours. I'm -- I'm organizing now to get them together out on one of the ships.
KING: Commodore Harris, what is Britain's role here?
COMMODORE NICK HARRIS, BRITISH NAVAL ATTACHE: Well, the admiral -- good evening, Admiral. The admiral is...
SKORGEN: Good evening.
HARRIS: ... very much closer to the scene of the action than I am here in Washington. I've been tracking very carefully what's been going on, and I know well that the coordination between the Norwegians, the Royal Navy effort and the Russians now is becoming very close. And I think the admiral will agree that they are now moving into a very, very complicated and potentially dangerous part of the mission. Everybody is very optimistic and keen to do everything they can to help, but I don't think we can overemphasize at this stage how difficult this mission is going to be, as our support units reach the area.
KING: Admiral Skorgen, they're going to go down, as I understand it, to examine the damaged hatch, shift away any debris that could impede further efforts. Is that correct? That's the role of the divers?
SKORGEN: That's the way I see it for the time being. There's certainly something wrong there, since the Russians couldn't mate, and if the British LR5 is going to do its job, there has to be some -- some job done at the submarine before they can mate.
KING: The American team is going to remain in Norfolk, ready to be dispatched, if asked. Commodore Harris, should the Americans, do you think, be involved?
HARRIS: I think...
KING: Should we -- should the Russians ask us to come, as well?
HARRIS: I'm sure the Russians are doing whatever they think is right, as far as asking for assistance is concerned. And I think you will have to ask the U.S. government how they're going to react to that.
KING: Admiral, if we're not hearing anything -- Morse code, sonar, nothing -- are we really just doing what we have to do against a futile concept?
SKORGEN: Well, I'm not quite sure. Certainly, time is a factor here, and the time is running out for all of us. But there is still hope, in my mind, and we never know what actually is the situation down there before we are there and inside the submarine. And we will go on carrying through this operation until we know.
KING: There is a code, Commodore Harris, among all submariners, no matter what country, right, that binds them?
HARRIS: Absolutely right. And throughout this entire tragic circumstance, we have all been very much with the Russian submarine community. We're very, very upset for them, and we have offered their condolences throughout this sadness. I think that also we hear an awful lot of speculation as to conditions on board. Certainly, by now, people will be lying very quietly, trying to conserve their energy for all the escape efforts which are going to continue. But our hearts are very much with them.
KING: So the British mini-sub comes Saturday. The Norwegian divers go on. They go down. We'll know a lot more after they go down. By the way, Admiral, are they in any danger, the divers?
SKORGEN: Certainly. The situation is unclear, and I don't know what they will meet down there. The current situation down there is difficult, and they will certainly also have to take care of their own security.
KING: And Commodore, the British -- this is a special sub, this mini-sub?
HARRIS: It's a very special submarine, specially designed for this kind of work, well-tried and proven in north sea operations. And as part of the entire NATO submarine rescue effort, we have used this submarine in many exercises before. And I think this should be seen as a NATO-coordinated rescue response.
KING: And Admiral, you will remain in Norway at your post?
SKORGEN: Certainly. We will -- I will remain in this post and try to -- try to support now both the Brits and our own divers there, see to that they have all the equipment in the area that they need, and also see to that exchange of people is going the way they want it.
KING: The whole world wishes you all luck. Thank you so much. We'll be calling on you again.
SKORGEN: Thank you.
KING: Commander Nick Harris and Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen.
We'll take a break and come back with Bill Maher of "Politically Incorrect" to get a look back at the Democratic convention, and include your phone calls.
Mr. Maher is next. Don't go away.