A Russian mini-submarine is in trouble just off of the Kamchatka peninsula in the Pacific Ocean.
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - A Russian mini-submarine carrying seven sailors snagged on a fishing net and was stuck 625 feet down on the Pacific floor Friday. A Russian vessel later towed the stranded sub to shallower waters as the United States and Britain rushed unmanned vehicles there to help in rescue efforts. [SNIP]
The U.S. Navy was loading two robotic rescue vehicles aboard a massive C-5 transport plane at Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego for the flight to Russia. The loading was expected to take about two hours, officials said.
The unmanned vehicle, called a Super Scorpio, can reach depths of up to 5,000 feet and is equipped with high-powered lights, sonar and video cameras, said Capt. Matt Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet in Honolulu.
The Deep Submergence Unit team is scheduled to depart at 1:45 p.m. EDT, the Pentagon said.
According to reports, the mini-submarine only has twenty-four hours of air left (measuring from
6AM 12pm EDT today). By the time all of the transportation and logistic issues that are necessary for a mission that has San Diego as its starting point and the tip of Kamchatka as the end point, the submarine’s crew will have only roughly eight hours of air left. It is hoped, however, that after the submarine’s propeller is disengaged from the fishing lines that it is able to operate on its own.
Russian President Vladimir Putin came under much domestic and international criticism five years ago when the Russian submarine Kursk was damaged after an on-board explosion and he delayed asking for outside help until it was too late. Many of the Kursk crew survived the explosion but all were asphyxiated because of the delay. In light of the planned war games between Russia and China, it is interesting that President Putin asked the US and the UK to assist in the rescue effort rather than the Chinese.
At any rate, I hope and pray that their mission is successful, for all concerned.
UPDATE: Reports now say that the submarine's propeller was caught on an underwater antenna--a "Pacific Fleet coastal infrastructure object"--not fishing nets. The US team is expected to land at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky at 5AM EDT tomorrow.
UPDATE: SMASH has a great roundup of the rescue efforts.
UPDATE: Ultraquiet No More; a submariners' blog. According to these guys, it's the anchor that was caught, not the propeller.
UPDATE: Interfax, the Russian news service, is the place to go for new information. (They're going to blow up the anchor!)
UPDATE: Information flowing like mud with the Russians. Now they say that the seven crewmen of the Priz could possibly have enough air to sustain them until 10PM Sunday EDT. However, since the Priz is itself a rescue vessel, its crew is assumed to have the skill and knowledge to preserve whatever oxygen is available to them.
Additionally, the Russians have admitted that the antenna cables in which the Priz has been caught are part of a net which is used to eavesdrop on US submarines. So the Priz really was caught in "fishing nets," in a sense.
Meanwhile, the Brits landed at P-K before the Americans and are making the four-hour trip to the coast where they and their equipment will be transported to the site of the Priz via a Russian vessel.
UPDATE: The Russian have attempted again to lift the submarine.
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, Russia — Russian crews looped cables under an underwater antenna snaring a mini-submarine on the Pacific floor Saturday and would try to lift them closer to the surface before air ran out for seven trapped sailors, a navy spokesman said.
Capt. Igor Dygalo (search) described the rescue effort as U.S. and British crews with robotic undersea vehicles raced to reach the site of the accident off the remote Kamchatka Peninsula (search) in the Russian Far East. A ship carrying British equipment was the first to leave port for the scene.
Authorities could not say exactly how much air remained on the mini-sub, which was some 625 feet below the surface, but an admiral said Saturday the supply should last until the end of the rescue. [SNIP]
U.S. and British planes flew in unmanned submersibles, known as Super Scorpios (search), on Saturday. They were being taken by ship to the accident site and could be used to cut the sub loose from the entangling equipment if the Russian effort to lift the vessel failed. Russian news reports said the antenna array was held down by two concrete anchors weighing 60 tons.
UPDATE: The Brits have arrived and are getting it done!
MOSCOW - Crews began lowering a British remote-controlled underwater vehicle to a Russian mini-submarine trapped deep under the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, hoping to reach seven trapped crewmen before their air supply ran outFrom live reports, it appears that the Priz was caught in actual fishing nets after all.
British crews were working with Russian naval authorities to lower the Super Scorpio unmanned robotic vehicle down to the sub, which was snarled by a military listening antenna 625 feet below the surface nearly three days ago.
UPDATE: According to FoxNews, the submarine is free from the nets--fishing or otherwise--and is ready to surface, presumably under its own power.
UPDATE: FoxNews is reporting that the Priz has surfaced with the help of a Brtish submersible and that all seven crewmen are alive! Interfax:
03:32 [GMT] Mini-submarine AS-28 lifted to the surface at 07:26 a.m., Moscow time,with all seven crew members - Russia Pacific Fleet command