Crew of rescued Russian sub anxious to get out of hospital

August 09, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, Russia - Seven Russians rescued from a mini-submarine hours before their air supply would have run out faced a new problem yesterday: Confined to a hospital, they wanted out.

The six sailors and a representative of the company that built the mini-sub were rescued Sunday after a remote-controlled British underwater craft cut through cables and fishing nets that had ensnared the Priz 600 feet below surface of the Bering Sea since Thursday. They had an estimated six to 12 hours of air remaining when they surfaced.

They also had been running short of water, the men said yesterday in comments on Rossiya and NTV television.

"We weren't out of water; we just didn't have enough of it," said crew member Alexander Uybin. "We were short of oxygen too. Not badly, but we could feel in our bodies that we weren't getting enough."

Uybin said his first wish when the mini-sub surfaced was "to take a breath of fresh air."

Gennady Bolonin, the AS-28 mini-submarine company's representative, said the men had simply tried to be patient.

"We realized we were on the bottom and reported it," he said. "All we could do was wait for whatever decisions were taken. After we'd said we were stuck, we just lay down and waited."

Temperatures in the craft reportedly were about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and the men tried to share their body heat during the ordeal. "We put on [thermal] diving overalls, and when you are keeping very close together, you get warm," Bolonin said.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said a commission had been appointed to analyze actions by Russia's Pacific Fleet and the Defense Ministry, and he added that those involved would undergo a debriefing.

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