The nail-biting story of a race to save the crew of a trapped Russian submarine.
5 August 2005. While conducting a secret mission thirty miles off the remote cost of Kamchatka, the Russian Navy submarine AS-28 became snared in the thick cables anchored to 60-tonne concrete blocks. Without power the stricken boat sunk to the seafloor. Trapped 600 feet down - too deep to escape - her crew of seven now had just seventy two hours before the air onboard ran out.
Twenty-four hours later - still haunted by the loss of the Kursk - the Russian Navy requested assistance. And on their side of the world, Commander Ian Riches, Boss of the Royal Navy s Submarine rescue team got the call: there was a sub down.
With their expertise and specialist equipment, he knew his team had a chance to save the men, but Kamchatka was at the very limit of their range. And the clock was ticking. As Riches and his men prepared to deploy to Russia s Pacific coast aboard a giant Royal Air Force C-17 airlifter, rescue teams from the United States and Japan were also scrambled to the area.
After the failure of the Russian Navy s own attempts to rescue them, the crew of the AS-28 shut down all of their boat s non-essential systems, climbed into thick thermal suits to keep the freezing cold at bay and waited, desperate to eke out the stale, thin air inside the pressure hull of their submarine. But as the first of them began to drift in and out of consciousness, they knew their time was running out...
Frank Pope is the Ocean Correspondent of The Times and presenter for the BBC. Previously he worked on underwater expeditions all over the world under the auspices of Oxford MARE (Maritime Archaeological Research and Excavation Unit), including the excavation of Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Agamemnon. He divides his time between London and Nairobi.