A Russian mini-submarine that was trapped for nearly three days under the Pacific Ocean surfaced today after a remote-controlled vehicle cut away the undersea cables that had snarled it.
A Russian naval spokesman who asked not to be named said the AS-28 made an emergency surfacing and appeared on the water at around 4:26pm local time (3.26am Irish time).
Naval workers were in the process of bringing the mini-sub alongside a ship and were preparing to open the vessel.
The condition of the vessel's seven-member crew was not immediately known, though naval officials had been in regular contact with the crew, who faced dwindling oxygen and chilly temperatures.
But Russian news agencies quoted Rear Admiral Vladimir Pepelyayev, deputy head of the navy's general staff, as saying that, judging by the recent communication with the crew, they appeared to be in satisfactory condition.
A British remote-controlled Super Scorpio cut away the cables that had snarled the mini-submarine some 190 meters (625 feet) below the surface off the shore of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
With oxygen supplies dwindling after nearly three days underwater, rescuers raced to bring the 44-foot (13.2m)-long AS-28 to the surface at the site in Beryozovaya Bay, 10 miles off Kamchatka's east coast.
Russian authorities had hoped that the British unmanned submersible could help free the sub and avoid losing a sub crew as they did with the Kursk nuclear submarine, which sank almost exactly five years ago, killing all 118 aboard.
The US also dispatched a crew and three underwater vehicles to Kamchatka, but they never left the port to head to the site of the incident.
In sharp contrast to the August 2000 Kursk disaster, when authorities held off asking for help until hope was nearly exhausted, Russian military officials quickly sought help from US and British authorities.
Officials said the Russian submarine was participating in a combat training exercise and got snarled on an underwater antenna assembly that is part of a coastal monitoring system. The system is anchored with a weight of about 60 tons, according to news reports.
Russia's cash-strapped navy apparently lacks rescue vehicles capable of operating at the depth where the sub was stranded, and officials say it was too deep for divers to reach or the crew to swim out on their own.
An earlier attempt to drag the vessel to shallow waters failed when cables detached after pulling it some 60 meters.