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Russian Submarine Accident: Rear Admiral Cobbald Discusses Rescue Equipment Being Sent Out to SiteAired August 18, 2000 - 8:01 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Russian rescue teams are working round- the-clock, but they are still unsuccessful at this hour. Four rescue capsules working in tandem have made 10 trips down to that stricken Kursk submarine overnight, and on one of those trips rescuers did reach the boat's outside deck, they were just unable to get through. They report both emergency hatches, fore and aft, are damaged.
Reporter Arkady Mamontov, of Russian TV, a government-owned station, relayed that news from the rescue scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARKADY MAMONTOV, RUSSIAN TV REPORTER (through translator): Early in the morning, one of the capsules managed to connect to the escape hatch of the submarine, but the platform of the escape hatch was deformed by some powerful blow. And when they began pumping out water, the water wouldn't drain from there, it kept refilling; that's why the rescue capsule had to surface after using up all of its battery power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: We'll have a live update on the status of that rescue mission coming for you at the half-hour this morning.
Now, Rear Admiral Richard Cobbald served as an anti-submarine warfare specialist in the British Royal Navy before retiring. Admiral Cobbald is in London this morning, where he has been monitoring the events closely, and the rear admiral has been quite familiar with the equipment that's being sent out there to that rescue site.
We thank you for your time today.
I want to ask you if you're encouraged or discouraged now by the news we've been hearing about that -- these escape hatches that seem to be damaged.
REAR ADM. RICHARD COBBALD, BRITISH ROYAL NAVY (RET.): I think that's discouraging. We know that the type of escape hatch that's on the Kursk is the same that's been on the Kito (ph) class submarines, and these -- the LR5 has exercise with in the -- with a NATO Polish Kito class submarines. It depends really whether or not the LR5 can get down there, mate successfully, and then relegate to work on the damaged hatch, and it really would have to produce quite a lot of power to be able to open a damaged hatch.
HARRIS: From the information you been able to gather, have you learned at all from your folks who are there on the way or from the video that's been broadcast at all from Russian Television whether are not that hatch is so badly damaged that even the LR5 cannot latch onto it?
COBBALD: No, we haven't. I think that it will need to wait until someone can get down there and look at it from our people before we can make a firm decision. But it is bad. If the escape hatch and the surroundings are badly deformed, then that is bad news.
HARRIS: Let me ask you about the information that we're getting because it seems as though there's lots of conflicting information coming out of Russia on all of this. Are you confident at all that you're getting all of the information you need to actually execute your mission here?
COBBALD: I think that they're giving us as much information as is probably available and probably all that we can have that is particularly relevant to that operation.
What I think is unclear is, of course, what caused it. There's been just, I think, overnight, deputy of the first premiere, Kablonov, has said that, now, it seems as if it was caused by an external collision of some sort, whereas before it had been an internal explosion, and before that external, and before that internal. So there is a coming and going of the cause, which is a little disturbing.
HARRIS: If the weather holds we should get some information fairly soon. How soon do you think you'll know for sure?
COBBALD: Well, I think it's tomorrow that the LR5 will arrive in the area, it's going to take a bit of time for the Norman (ph) Pioneer, the mother ship, to positioned itself on top of the submarine, to lower the LR5 into the water, do the necessary first tests, and then put it down. So I think it will be quite later on European time tomorrow before we get very much clearer what is actually happening.
HARRIS: Well, time is of the essence.
COBBALD: I hope so.
HARRIS: Time is of the essence. Rear Admiral Richard Cobbald, thank you much for your time. We appreciate it. Good luck to you.
COBBALD: It's a pleasure.
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