Russian deep submergence rescue vehicle AS-28

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Mini-submarine AS-28 Priz after surfacing in the Bering Sea
AS-28 surfacing in the Bering Sea
Career
Name: AS-28
Laid down: January 1982
Launched: 10 December 1985
Commissioned: 12 August 1986
Status: in active service, as of 2014
General characteristics
Class & type: Priz-class deep-submergence rescue vehicle
Displacement: 55 tonnes (54 long tons)
Length: 13.5 m (44 ft 3 in)
Beam: 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)
Height: 4.6 m (15 ft 1 in)
Speed: 3.3 knots (6.1 km/h) maximum
2.3 knots (4.3 km/h) cruise
0.5 metres per second (1.6 ft/s) ascent speed
Range: 21 nmi (39 km)
Endurance: 120 hours with 4 aboard
10 hours with 24 aboard
Test depth: 1,000 m (3,300 ft)
Capacity: 20 passengers
Crew: 5

AS-28 is a Priz-class deep-submergence rescue vehicle of the Russian Navy, which entered service in 1986.[1] It was designed for submarine rescue operations by the Lazurit design bureau in Nizhny Novgorod. It is 13.5 m (44 ft) long, 5.7 m (19 ft) high, and can operate up to a depth of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

Training accident[edit]

On August 5, 2005 AS-28, under the command of Lieutenant Vyacheslav Milashevskiy, became entangled with the aerial of a hydrophone array off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, in Berezovaya Bay, 70 km southeast of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Kamchatka Oblast. The aerial, anchored by 60-tonne concrete blocks, snared the propeller of the submarine, and the submarine then sank to the seafloor at a depth of 190 m (600 ft). This was too deep for the ship's complement of seven to leave the submarine and swim to the surface. The British rescuers and Russian officials stated that fishing nets also had entangled the vessel.

On August 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov to fly to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to oversee the rescue operation, which was under the command of the Commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet, Admiral Viktor Fedorov.

On August 7, all seven sailors were rescued after the cables snaring their submarine were cut by a British remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The submarine surfaced at 4:26 p.m. local time on Sunday and all seven crewmen exited the vessel without assistance.

International appeal[edit]

The Russian Navy requested assistance after at least 24 hours, much faster than their response when the Kursk sank on August 12, 2000. It was suggested that the Russians may have called for help so quickly this time as they were on a recent exercise with NATO forces for just such an eventuality.[2]

A C-5 Galaxy being loaded with people and equipment from the Deep Submergence Unit, North Island Naval Base Coronado, San Diego. The C-5 took two Super Scorpio robotic rescue vehicles to Russia to assist in the rescue.

Immediate support was offered by the Royal Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the United States Navy. The United Kingdom sent a Scorpio 45 ROV via C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft and a team to operate it. Japan sent four ships with rescue equipment. The United States sent two unmanned Super Scorpio ROVs from San Diego and a Deep Drone ROV from Landover, Maryland, both airlifted via C-5 Galaxy and C-17 transports, respectively. Each unmanned vehicle was also accompanied by a team to operate it. It was intended that these unmanned rescue vessels, with their robotic arms, would be able to cut the nets or cables that anchored the submarine. A pair of Canadian divers and their deep sea diving suits accompanied the U.S. mission via the C-5 transporting the USN Scorpios, to directly assess the situation on the seabed if necessary. The American ROVs never left the dock, although their C-5 cargo plane arrived only two hours after the British crew. The British did not have the necessary heavy lifting equipment, nor were they provided by the Russians. When the American rescue team arrived one and a half hours after the British, they used their own heavy lifting equipment which they brought with them to help unload the British command cabin for the ROV. The British mission was a success.

Rescue[edit]

Russian admiral Fedorov (Fyodorov) first discussed using explosives to cut the antenna but those tactics were never employed. The Russian oceangoing tugs MB-105 and KIL-168 instead attempted to lift the stricken craft to the surface using underslung cables. This attempt proved futile. Meanwhile, to conserve energy and oxygen, the crew of the AS-28 shut down the submarine's non-essential systems (including the heater), donned thermal suits, and rested.

The British Scorpio was the only foreign remotely operated vehicle to arrive and be deployed. It successfully cut away the cables which had snagged the submarine while surface ships had retreated a safe distance. On August 7, 2005 at 16:26 local time (03:26 UTC), the saga came to a close when the vessel successfully surfaced. All seven crewmen were alive and able to climb out of the vessel within moments of its surfacing. They had been trapped in the vessel for over 76 hours and rescuers found that they had only enough oxygen to last at most 12 more hours. They also were desperately short of water, of which they had had only three or four handfuls a day.

The story of the submarine's rescue was featured on the BBC One documentary Submarine Rescue. The documentary was subsequently awarded the accolade of "best documentary" by the British Maritime Society.

The submariners[edit]

and also

  • Valeriy Lepetyukha (Валерий Лепетюха), captain of the 1st rank
  • Gennadiy Bolonin (Геннадий Болонин), the Deputy Director of Lazurit, the organization that built AS-28.

Note 1: ^ Midshipman pronounced and written in Russian [michman] (mичmaн) is a warrant officer rank in the Russian Navy

Repercussions[edit]

The Guardian reports questions have been raised over how long Russian officials waited to request help.[3] The first exposure of the accident came when the wife of a crewman called a radio station 24 hours later, and the wife of commander Milashevsky claims they were actually stranded Wednesday. Kommersant reports that the head of the Navy Vladimir Kuroyedov, may be relieved over this, the Kursk, and other accidents.[4] Another nuclear submarine, the K-159, being towed to the junkyard, sank in 2003 [5] when the pontoon broke loose, with the loss of nine lives. BBC also reports that in July, an ICBM test firing witnessed by Putin failed to launch twice; then exploded soon after launch the next day. Although officials claimed the AS-28 crew had food and water for five days, they were actually desperately short of water.[6] There were also alternating stories about whether the submarine was caught on an aerial or fishing nets; nets and cables were visible on TV footage of the ROV in action. Russian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the affair, and their Navy plans to buy two of the £700,000 to £3 million Scorpio ROVs.[citation needed]

References[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]