Russia pays tribute to British submarine rescue team

The Russian defence minister has paid tribute to the British Navy team, which helped to rescue seven Russian sailors trapped in a mini submarine.

Sergei Ivanov contacted British defence secretary John Reid to pay tribute to the British crew. In a telephone conversation, Mr Ivanov said: "I send my deepest thanks and appreciation. For six hours the team worked without interruption to save the Russian submersible. The UK were the first to come, they played a crucial part and we do appreciate that. This was an ordeal for seven families and I send my thanks to the Royal Navy."

Mr Reid said that he was “delighted” that the rescue mission had had a successful outcome. He said: "Sometimes when these things happen, out of a potential tragedy good things come, and in many ways this is a major step forward in ways we can work together."

The seven Russian sailors were trapped in the AS28 submarine, 190m below the surface, for three days, after it became ensnared in fishing nets off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, on Thursday.

The Russian government, who had been heavily criticised for not accepting international help for when the Kursk submarine sank five years ago, resulting in the death of all 118 crew members, accepted help from both Britain and the US on Friday to help rescue the crew of the stricken submarine.

The British six-man team, led by Commander Ian Riches, flew to Petropavlovsk from Prestwick airport on Friday. They arrived at the scene on Sunday and managed to free the submarine after a tense six-hour operation.

The British team used a vehicle known as a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Scorpio 45 to cut through the nets entangling the submarine. The Scorpio 45 is an unmanned remote-controlled submersible that is used in situations that are too dangerous or too deep to send divers. It can operate down to depth of 925m and is fitted with three cameras and cable cutting equipment to cut steel cable up to 70mm diameter for clearing debris and nets.

The British team managed to free the submarine, allowing it to rise to the surface and the crew to leave. It is believed that the crew only had between four and six hours of oxygen left.

Commander Riches, who led the British team, said they were “overjoyed” at the rescue mission’s success and were keen to meet the seven Russian sailors who had been rescued.


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