Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Meet the Brits

Here's a good article with some quotes from the leader of the British team that rescued the AS-28, CDR Ian Riches. He included one piece of information that I'd been looking for -- what happened to the Russian ROVs:

"Cdr Riches said some Russians wanted to know why their own navy had not been able to carry out the rescue themselves.
"I know they have their own ROVs. I also know they did try and they suffered some fairly major failures in these ROVs. That is for them to investigate," he said."

It's fairly common in the more "corruption-friendly" societies for the military to report higher readiness standards for their equipment than is actually the case -- people either skim the repair money off, or want to make their boss think they're doing a good job. They make the assumption that whatever piece of equipment they're "radioing off" maintenance on won't really be needed; then, it comes back to bite them in the butt. It'll be interesting to see if word ever comes out on why the Russian ROVs weren't ready; of course, if words ever does come out, it might just be a political power-play or "CYA" from the higher ups.

The Russian press still seems to be playing the story from an "anti-leadership" angle; I know the Russian print media is a lot more independent than it was 20 years ago, but I'm wondering if they're being "prodded" in a direction that will allow Putin to force some top Navy people out:

"Only when the situation was near to critical did the navy's top brass ask for help from foreigners," the newspaper said.
"It wasn't our victory," the popular Moskovsky Komsomolets daily headlined its main story, noting with irony that the Royal Navy's Scorpio remote-controlled submersible had "sorted out the problems of the Russian fleet within a few hours".
"News that the mini-submarine was in danger broke only half a day after the accident occurred, while the wife of the vessel's captain heard later while watching local television, the government-owned Rossyskaya Gazeta newspaper said.
"Only after two days did a navy psychologist go to her home. Then "he calmed her with these words," Gazeta reported: "This is Russia - pray!"
"According to the opposition Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "it seems the submariners did not have the secret charts" marking the antenna system in which they became trapped."

Finally, we have this article from Christopher Drew, who along with Sherry Sontag is co-author of Blind Man's Bluff. These two always draw the most heated reactions from submariners, although I kind of liked how they generally portrayed the average submariner as an uber-talented superman; very accurate and perceptive on their part. Anyway, he says:

"The rescue culminated a frenzied push by several nations to free the men before time ran out. Participants said it was possible only because of intense efforts to build international cooperation after a Russian submarine, the Kursk, exploded and sank five years ago.
"They said it also took extraordinary improvisation to rush tons of equipment to an isolated site off Russia's Far East coast and disentangle the vessel as the hours ticked down.
"It wasn't the Redball Express here," Ervin said, referring to difficulties in unloading the rescue equipment at Kamchatka's antiquated air and sea ports.
"American and British officials said the main culprit in trapping the sub was a discarded fishing net. They said it was wrapped so tightly around the submarine's propeller and hull that the layers of stretched nylon appeared to be as thick as a 1 1/2-inch cable."

I expect we'll hear more as the American and especially British teams return home for more in-depth interviews.

Staying at PD...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Russians seem to be capable of absorbing any amount of humiliation. The fact that they weren't able to mount a successful rescue operation in their own backyard should be deeply embarrassing to them. A nation that can't do that has no business operating submarines/submersibles at all.

The Soviet Navy of the cold war, while often (but not always) overmatched in technology, found ingenious ways to cut its disadvantages and maintain a credible fighting force. All such ability is gone. What remains is a rotting hulk, more dangerous to itself than to its potential enemies.

You may be sure that after a little hand wringing and perhaps a mid-level firing or two things will be right back to normal again: poor planning, badly-maintained equipment, and sloppy operations.

8/08/2005 11:31 AM


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