August 5, 2005

Navy submersible joining Russia submarine rescue

By Charles Aldinger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will fly an
unmanned, Navy mini-submarine to Russia on Friday to join an
attempt to rescue seven Russian sailors trapped aboard a
military mini-submarine on the Pacific floor, Navy officials

"The deep-diving submarine 'Super Scorpio' will be flown
from San Diego to Petropavolvsk on an Air Force C-5 transport
along with a team of Navy operators at the request of the
Russian Navy," said Lt. JG Maria Miller, a Navy spokeswoman at
the Pentagon.

Miller told Reuters that the little vessel, capable of
cutting through steel cable, would be moved by truck to a
Russian ship to be taken to the scene in an attempt to aid in
the rescue.

The spokeswoman said that the submarine and its operating
team from the Navy's Deep Submergence Unit based at the big
naval base in San Diego could leave California as early as
Friday morning.

The little U.S. Navy submarine is four feet long, four feet
wide, eight feet high and weighs 4,500 pounds (2045 kg). Miller
said it was capable of diving to an ocean depth of 5,000 feet.

"It has the capability of cutting steel cable one inch
(2.54 cm) thick," she said.

In Russia, officials said that they had requested help and
suggested that the crew of the little Russian submarine,
apparently tangled in a fishing net, might have only 24 hours
of oxygen left aboard the vessel.

"We're going to move the resources that we think can be
helpful to the scene as rapidly as possible," Pentagon
spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters in Washington. "Efforts
are being led by the Russian government and it (U.S.
assistance) is something that they have asked for."

Whitman noted that the U.S. move followed steps by the
American and Russian navies to work more closely in such areas
as undersea rescue. The two militaries conducted a bilateral
undersea rescue exercise in the Mediterranean off the coast of
Italy in June.

"While every situation is certainly unique and presents its
own set of challenges, it's not something that hasn't been
thought through. And it has been rehearsed to some degree and
practiced," the spokesman said.