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Pentagon Comments on Russian Sub Rescue EffortAired August 17, 2000 - 1:38 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to switch now live to the Pentagon. The Pentagon holding its daily news briefing, but taking questions about rescue efforts for the Kursk, the sunken Russian submarine.
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REAR ADM. CRAIG QUIGLEY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: ... But the crews and the support cast for the DSRV's out there have been very much aware of the situation in the Barents for the last several days. They've done an inventory of their equipment. They're paying attention to the news reports. They are listening to their chain of command. They're ready, by design, on short notice, by the very nature of their mission.
So I think they are as ready as they can be short of actually being asked for help and being directed to fly away.
QUESTION: How long would it take for them to get there?
QUIGLEY: I would -- I can't give you a direct answer on that. But it would be the flight time to gather the crews together, get the assets on aircraft, position them somewhere in the vicinity of the accident site -- not clear where that would be. Should there be a request from the Russians for that asset, those would be the sorts of questions we would need to have good answers to.
QUESTION: Are you talking days, weeks, hours, what would be a time frame? I mean, you're not going to get there Saturday.
QUIGLEY: Oh, it would be a matter of a couple of days, I would think.
QUESTION: Has there ever been any thought or discussion to pre- positioning efforts, those sort of assets forward, like the British were doing just before the request from the Russians came in?
QUIGLEY: We have no knowledge of which assets might be helpful to the Russians. I'm -- I was attracted to a parallel to the Hippocratic oath this morning where, first, "do no harm." And about the worst thing that you could have happen is six countries, 10 countries, pick a number, all rushing to the scene with assets they feel might be helpful, and in the aggregate you could be counterproductive and actually be obstructive in any sort of a rescue attempt for those sailors.
So being able to predict which U.S. assets, if any, might actually be helpful in the recovery of the crew members is not something that we can do.
So I discussed, Tuesday, from here, there's other things, there's many other things, that might be helpful. But we're just simply not going to guess as to what might be helpful.
The offers have clearly been made. The Russians are very much aware of those. And we're confident that if they feel that we have something that can contribute to the rescue efforts of the crew, they will let us know.
QUESTION: Have the Russians shed any light to U.S. officials of what they think may have been the cause of the explosion on the sub?
QUIGLEY: No, sir, not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Can you in any way tell us of any differences in capability between the LR5 and the U.S. equivalent technology that's in San Diego? For example, I gather the British are saying the LR5 drives at about four knots an hour under water, and the question is: Is the current stronger than that or less so? Does the American equipment have greater power than that? Or is it the same? Or less?
QUIGLEY: I am not familiar with the specific capabilities of the LR5, and I think I should let the British talk about the capabilities of their system.
I'm aware of some differences in the two.
The U.S. DSRV that's out at North Island is a, I think, in the aggregate, probably a more complex system, allowing there to be things like a pressure differential, I think it can carry more people. But there are design limitations to any piece of equipment. And on the U.S. DSRV, the angular maximum is about 45 degrees, so if you have a submarine that is angled at 45 degrees or greater, that's beyond the design capability of our system.
Now, the British have said that the big advantage of their LR5 is they are not hampered by that 45-degree restriction and they can accommodate a greater angle. So in this particular case, as we understand it, that would be an overwhelming advantage and would be the tie-breaker. So that system, in this particular circumstance, could be more capable. But I'm not clear as to the specifics of its capabilities and limitations.
QUESTION: Could I also ask you, does this accident, in your view, I realize it's early, say anything about the state of readiness of the Russian navy? What is the state of readiness of the...
QUIGLEY: Oh, I would draw no such macro-conclusions from this or any other accident. They can occur for a variety of reasons to a variety of navies around the world. So I think our focus and our concern at this point is to try to rescue crew members on board that submarine.
I'm sure that's Russia's focus as well, and indeed, every seafaring nation that has offered to provide assistance. That's the concern.
QUESTION: Could I ask you, as a separate question, then, if people are finished with the subject of the submarine, about the readiness of the Russian navy?
QUIGLEY: I'm not prepared to go in such a comprehensive topic on that today.
ALLEN: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, from the Pentagon, taking questions about the Russian sub Kursk, saying that the U.S. Navy still on stand by, just in case Russia asks for additional help. As we have been saying, the British are sending a rescue submersible to the area. Still going to take a couple of days for it to get there.
The Pentagon, yesterday, expressed doubt over whether anyone survived the initial explosion, which the Pentagon says, according to its monitoring devices, actually happened on Saturday. Russia has said it happened on Sunday.
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