Brits Rescue Russian Sub, All Seven Crew Members Alive

After a three day rescue effort, the Royal Navy managed to raise a Russian submarine trapped in the Pacific Ocean, saving all seven crew members in the nick of time.

All 7 Aboard Russian Submarine Rescued (AP)

Seven people on a submarine trapped for nearly three days under the Pacific Ocean were rescued Sunday after a British remote-controlled vehicle cut away undersea cables that had snarled their vessel, allowing it to surface. The seven, whose oxygen supplies had been dwindling, appeared to be in satisfactory condition when they emerged, naval spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said. They were examined in the clinic of a naval ship, then transferred to a larger vessel to return to the mainland.

About five hours after their rescue, six of them were brought to a hospital on the mainland for examination, waving to relatives as they went in; the seventh was kept aboard a hospital ship for unspecified reasons.

The mini-sub’s commander, Lt. Vyacheslav Milashevsky, was pale and appeared overwhelmed when he got off the ship that brought the men to shore. But he told journalists he was “fine” before climbing into a mini-van to take him to the hospital. His wife, Yelena, earlier said she was overjoyed when she learned the crew had been rescued. “My feelings danced. I was happy. I cried,” she told Channel One.

The sub surfaced at 4:26 p.m. local time Sunday, some three days after becoming entangled in 600 feet of water off the Pacific Coast on Thursday and after a series of failed attempts to drag it closer to shore or haul it closer to the surface. It was carrying six sailors and a representative of the company that manufactured it. “The crew opened the hatch themselves, exited the vessel and climbed aboard a speedboat,” said Rear Adm. Vladimir Pepelyayev, deputy head of the naval general staff.

“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.

“Our English colleagues” is not a phrase one could have imagined a Russian officer uttering not so long ago.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Richard Gardner says:

    As the former admitted submariner here I guess I must comment for background. The Brits did a great job and arrived first by 2 hours before teh Americans (I checked, it is about the same distance from the UK to Petr (Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky) as from San Diego, where the US ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) are based, though the transport aircraft would have come from Travis AFB, CA, or McChord AFB, WA). That reminds one of just how vast the Pacific Ocean is.

    There are conflicting reports as to what the submersible was hung up on, either a fishing net, or a super-secret “antenna” (meaning a sonar array). Not a big deal, but it shows what happens when the press is getting reports from someone thousands of miles from the scene, the facts are incomplete or filtered (not that they would necessarily get the facts right if they were on the scene). This really doesn’t matter. Ditto the reports on the air remaining (the real issue is the CO2 buildup).

    A similar event happened about 1990 to the US submersible “Turtle” off of San Clemente Island, but there wasn’t much press/hype about it.

    Some lessons from this are:

    – The sea remains a dangerous place, and there is quite a bit of junk on or near the bottom

    – The bi-annual submarine rescue exercise ‘Sorbet Royal,” which has included the Russians post-Kursk, just proved its worth

    – The Russians rapidly came to the conclusion they needed help, and asked for it. This shows a more open military, and maybe a society.

    The best blog coverage of this is at the group sub blog