Friday, September 07, 2007

Local divers team up to salvage an old submarine museum


September 07, 2007

A Rhode Island submarine museum has been closed since April after it sunk during a Nor'easter. Army divers from Fort Eustis and Navy divers from Little Creek are attempting to salvage the sub. About 30 of them teamed up with a group of engineers to figure out how they can get the sub back to the surface.

It was once called a "shining star" in the city of Providence, but now The "Russian Submarine Museum" sits in the mud, 30 feet below Narragansett Bay.

Army and Navy divers say attempting to salvage the sub is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Peter Sharpe is one of 13 divers based out of Little Creek working to first stabilize the sub. He says, "The worst case scenario is it rolls on it's side or it rolls upside and then it's nearly impossible for you to refloat it."

Divers are using metal cables to anchor the sub, they'll then drain it next summer and finally bring it to the surface. But, "there's virtually no hope of that boat ever being a museum again," says Sharpe. "With all of the marine growth and organic material you wouldn't be able to go on a tour unless you were wearing a self contained breathing device."

Still everyone agrees salvaging the sub is not a wasted effort. They say divers can learn valuable skills that they can apply to a vast array of diving operations. It's good for both the military and those working to restore it.

The sub is tentatively set to be brought up next May. There's been some talk about using parts of the submarine as a static display, but divers say they won't know it's exact condition until it's raised and inspected.



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