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August 6, 2005

Rescuers start to cut free snarled Russian mini-sub (With Some Interesting Details From A Submariner) UPDATED

Topics: International News

UPDATE: All seven sailors alive and on the surface, rescued!


The Russian navy, backed by a British deep-sea rescue sub, is struggling to free the trapped Russian mini-submarine from the Pacific depths and save its crew before their air supply ran out. Naval officials warned they may only have Sunday left to rescue the seven men stuck on board the AS-28, which is entangled in metal cords from the antenna of an electronic underwater monitoring station, part of Russia's coastal defenses, 600 feet below the surface. Their oxygen is "dwindling."

According to Russia's Pacific Fleet press service, a British Scorpio, the unmanned undersea rescue vehicle that was rushed at Moscow's request to Russia's far east Kamchatka peninsula, has submerged and is working to cut the mini-sub free. The Scorpio arrived at the AS-28 mini-submarine at 1905 EDT time (7:05 PM EDT) and started to cut the main cable keeping the sub from being freed. Two hoses and a steel cable need to be cut away in order to disentangle the mini-sub. The United States has also dispatched rescue vehicles to the scene, where Russian naval officials expect that the rescuers will work round the clock in an effort to save the crew.

Some interesting details emailed in from a former Submariner, HarryTho:

The sub is designed for three men. They have seven on board! Seven will require far more oxygen than three, and the seven will expel more carbon dioxide than three. How they have lasted so long, I do not know. Their onboard oxygen stores must be larger than anyone anticipated. Maybe the sub contained emergency lithium oxide candles that could be ignited to provide additional oxygen. The carbon dioxide build up is another matter to reduce.

From the in Hawaii:

(...) Sergei Chechin, a former pilot of a manned submersible similar to the 44-foot-long Priz, which is crippled after its propeller was caught on an underwater antenna Thursday off Russia's northeastern coast.

(...) Chechin said this old-style sub has cells, which draw out carbon dioxide. The Russian Navy ought to know how many cells were taken and could easily calculate how much oxygen the crew has, he said.

(...) Chechin disputed a Russian admiral's estimate yesterday that the crew had enough oxygen to last until Monday. "I'm sure it's not true," Chechin said. "They must know how much oxygen they have. First they said 24 hours, then 48."

(...) Initial reports stated they had 24 hours of air. The admiral said today there was oxygen for 18 hours, then later said there is enough for more than 24 hours.

(...) "It's getting colder and colder inside the pressure hull," said Chechin, who lives in Salt Lake. He estimated the temperature inside the steel-hulled vessel to be 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

(...) "The rescue effort is more a public relations effort than really effort to save lives," he said.

(...) Based on information from a Russian newspaper article he read online, Chechin said he believes the Russian Navy waited too long before asking for international help.

(...) "I wish they would come up alive," Chechin said of the Priz crew. "The chances are very slim they will survive."

Riehl World View also has coverage of the story here and here.


Posted by Hyscience at August 6, 2005 10:27 PM

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