Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Submariners rescued by British vehicle; all alive


A Russian mini-submarine that was trapped for nearly three days under the Pacific Ocean surfaced yesterday with all seven people aboard alive after a British remote-controlled vehicle cut away the undersea cables that had snarled it.

All seven aboard the AS-28 mini-submarine appeared to be in satisfactory condition, naval spokesman Captain Igor Dygalo said. About five hours after their rescue, they arrived at a hospital on the mainland for examination, waving to relatives as they went in.

"The crew opened the hatch themselves, exited the vessel and climbed aboard a speedboat," Rear Admiral Vladimir Pepelyayev, deputy head of the naval general staff, told reporters. "Preliminary indications are that their condition is satisfactory."

"I can only thank our English colleagues for their joint work and the help they gave in order to complete this operation within the time we had available -- that is, before the oxygen reserves ran out," he said.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who went to Kamchatka to supervise the operation, praised the international efforts and said, "We have seen in deeds, not in words, what the brotherhood of the sea means."

The sub surfaced at around 4:26pm local time, some three days after becoming stranded in 190m of water off the Pacific Coast. It was carrying six sailors and a representative of the company that manufactured it.

Earlier, Russian ships had tried to tow the sub and its entanglements to shallower water where divers could reach it, but were able to move it only about 60m-100m in the Beryozovaya Bay about 15km off the Kamchatka coast.

Then, a British remote-controlled Super Scorpio cut away the cables that had snarled the 13.2m mini-submarine and Dygalo said the vessel was able to come to the surface on its own.

The British vehicle was sent after the Russian navy made an urgent appeal for international help -- unlike during the August 2000 sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk, when authorities held off asking for outside assistance for days. All 118 aboard the Kursk died.

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