Putin honors UK submarine team
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
LONDON, England -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has honored five British rescuers who saved the crew of a Russian mini submarine trapped on the Pacific Ocean floor.
In an award ceremony at British Prime Minister Tony Blair's residence at 10 Downing Street, Putin's presentation included the first Russian medals to be given to non-Russian military staff.
Commander Ian Riches and a team of Royal Navy contractors flew to Russia's Kamchatka peninsula in August with a Scorpio underwater robot and freed a Russian AS-28 mini-submarine trapped 190 meters under the Pacific Ocean.
The Royal Navy were called as Russia did not have suitable equipment for the rescue.
The highly exclusive Order for Maritime Services was awarded to Commander Riches, together with Stuart Gold and Peter Nuttall from contractors James Fisher Rumic, who operated the Scorpio remote-controlled rescue vehicle.
Squadron Leader Keith Hewitt -- the captain of the RAF C17 transport aircraft which flew the Scorpio from Scotland to Russia's Pacific coast --and Captain Jonathan Holloway, the British naval attache in Moscow, received the Order of Friendship.
At the ceremony in No 10's Pillared Room, Putin said he was "honored" to present the medals.
"I would like to thank you for the work done, for the mission accomplished and rescue of the Russian seamen.
"The work was done quickly, at a good professional level and most importantly it succeeded."
Putin added: "In this regard, I can't help mentioning that this year we jointly marked the 60th anniversary of VE Day -- victory over Nazis.
"We in Russia remember vividly remarkable examples of outstanding heroism demonstrated by the British seamen in the operation of the so-called Northern Convoy.
"I am very pleased to note that even today you have made your contribution in substantially increasing, up-leveling, deepening and broadening our cooperation."
Putin concluded: "In reality you have continued the tradition which has been traditional in the relationship between our two countries for many, many years."
The seven-man crew of the AS28 had just four to six hours of oxygen left when their vessel was dramatically freed by the Scorpio after three days on the ocean floor.
Wednesday's award ceremony came at the end of the EU-Russia summit in London.
Prime Minister Tony Blair also hailed the rescue team. He told Putin: "I know that those who were engaged in the rescue are deeply honored by the way that you are honoring them today."
Blair said the medal presentation was a further indication of the level of cooperation between Britain and Russia.
|© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.