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Deep submergence vehicles technology to be of demand in Arctic — experts

July 31, 8:00 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

The experience of Mir-1 and Mir-2 vehicles may become of demand in development of the Arctic, experts say

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ST. PETERSBURG, July 31. /TASS/. The technology of diving onboard submersibles was offered ten years ago, on July 29, 2007. The experience of Mir-1 and Mir-2 vehicles may become of demand in development of the Arctic, experts say.

"The first diving was on July 29 north-east off the Franz-Joseph Land archipelago," Vladimir Sokolov told TASS. He was head of the Arctic 2007 expedition, during which the High-Latitude Deepwater expedition led by Artur Chilingarov dived under ice twice. The Mir deep submergence vehicles provided positioning, security and hydrometeorology support for the expedition, and Solovyev’s crew installed buoys and provided the ice support of the diving.

The technology of diving under the ice is important for two major purposes, Sokolov said. "In case of a submarine in distress, the submersible may quite promptly analyze and find reason of the accident, as it has better information than the rescue vessels, though because of the hermetic structure any Mir is unable to rescue the crew," the expert said. The Mir vehicles are also most valuable "in development of extractable resources on the shelf and in deep-water areas of the ocean."

Five years at bay

Mir-1’s pilot Anatoly Sagalevich, head of the laboratory on Mir exploitation, told TASS the vehicles had not dived for five years already. Mir-1 became an exhibition object at Kaliningrad’s Ocean Museum, and Mir-2 is also in Kaliningrad - at bay. Meanwhile, he said, in order to begin a voyage it would be necessary only to "replace the batteries, the vessels are in working conditions and are ready to resume working."

He continued, saying he was working on new projects for the Mir vehicles. "It is too early to speak about them, but they do exist," he said, adding "development of the Arctic zone will require using practically the technology of diving under the ice, which Mirs offered ten years ago." "I believe, it would be of demand," he said.

While commenting on this topic, command of the Russian Navy assured TASS "traditions of the Russian school of under-ice diving have not been lost." "Russian submarines make voyages under the ice, including in the Arctic areas next to the Polar Circle. Jointly with the Academy (of Sciences) institutes, the Navy are involved in a few research projects in the Arctic depth, and the work on the under-ice diving on Mirs is an example of the cooperation," the source said.

Director General of Kaliningrad’s Ocean Museum Svetlana Sivkova said "Mir-1 is a most popular exhibit in the museum." "Lately, we have registered an upsurge of applications for post-graduate program at the Institute of Oceanography - to study the sea depth by using the submersibles. My opinion, this interest emerges from the opportunity to see Mir-1 at our museum. The genius of Russian engineers is playing the educational role, and quite many are interested in continuing this scientific work," she said.

About the Mir self-propelled deep submergence vehicles

Mir-1 and Mir-2 were built in Finland in 1987. The designer is Igor Mikhaltsev. The manned submersibles are hermetic capsules carrying pilots, who use outside manipulators. The carrier and command center of both Mir submersibles is the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh vessel of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oceanography. Between 1987 and 1991, the Mir submersibles participated in 35 expeditions to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. In 1989-1998, the submersibles were used in missions in the Norwegian Sea, where the Komsomolets nuclear submarine had wrecked. In September 2000, the Mir vehicles helped in finding reasons of the accident with the Kursk nuclear submarine.

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