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Russian Submarine Accident: British Military to Send Submersible to Assist in Rescue EffortAired August 16, 2000 - 9:25 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, getting word the British military is about to send a submersible on its way toward northern Russia and the Barents Sea to try and assist in the rescue effort of the Russian seamen trapped beneath the ocean floor.
Christiane Amanpour with us now live from London for more on this angle to the story.
Christiane, what do we know?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, after hours, and in fact nearly a day of intense discussions between London and Russian defense ministry officials, London now confirms that they have been asked to provide help in this dramatic rescue attempt.
About two hours ago, a small British submersible, a submarine known as an LR-5 was transported aboard a British transport plane from Glasgow in Scotland to Trondheim, Norway.
When it lands there, it will apparently be put on to a ship, rather, and then that will head to the site, where this Russian submarine is crippled at the bottom of the Barents Sea.
We understand that it could take a day to actually get to the site. We understand, according to military officials here, that the submarine that is going to do this rescue is a three-man crew. It has provisions and supplies for about four days, and it can carry 16 passengers.
Apparently, it is going to try to connect the hatch with a ring on the Russian submarine and bring the crew up through there, if it can actually get there and connect.
As we have said, some of the British military analysts have said that the Royal Navy here does in fact have submarines that can hold 20 passengers. So we will see just how this rescue attempt goes, and whether or not there will need to be different submersibles sent over there.
Also, one military analyst says that Britain can, in fact, send divers, fully equipped, fully dressed and loaded and ready to go, and parachute them into the sea right there, and have them dive and try to do a rescue down there. Some British officials say that it's not too late. That if rescue efforts are stepped up and go into effect very, very quickly that they hope it's not too late to rescue the 116 Russian crew members who on their nuclear submarine crippled at the bottom of the Barents Sea -- Bill.
HEMMER: Christiane, any reaction from the British government or the British military about why the delay? or is there an expression of understanding for allowing the Russians to be able to go ahead and try to work this out on their own?
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly formally and publicly there has been an expression of understanding while always saying that we are waiting here the minute you say that you need our help we will be able to provide it to you as soon as possible.
But certainly, in comment that we've read in the newspapers, and in other comments, we have heard that, basically, most people wish that Russia had asked for help very, very quickly, right from the beginning, because this after all is not so much a matter of national pride, and military secrets, but a matter of saving the lives of 116 people down at the bottom of the sea.
HEMMER: All right, Christiane, Christiane Amanpour live there in London.
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