The Russian Black Sea Fleet has put into service a British-made remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a fleet spokesman said on Wednesday. Saab Seaeye Panther Plus is designed to perform salvage operations including torpedo recovery and support of distressed submarines with emergency life support pods and can operate at depths up to 1,000 meters (3,000 feet).
It was adopted for service with the Black Sea Fleet after extensive testing and a 50-hour underwater operation at depths of up to 100 meters, the spokesman said.
The decision to buy the system from Britain was made after an incident with Russian submariners in the Bering Sea in August 2005, when Russia's AS-28 submersible became tangled in a fishing net at a depth of about 190 meters (about 620 feet).
It was rescued after three days when a British unmanned deep-sea rescue vehicle, the Scorpio 45, cut the net's cables and freed the Priz.
Typical (civilian) Panther applications include pipeline surveys, touch down monitoring, cable installation, drill support and NDT (nondestructive testing) inspections.
Russian shipyards have not built a single ROV-class vehicle in the past decade.