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AMC answers call to help rescue trapped Russian sailors

by Tech. Sgt. Mark Diamond
AMC Public Affairs
by Senior Airman Robin Drake

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, SAN DIEGO -- U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy personnel load naval submersible equipment onto a C-5 Galaxy here. After the cargo was loaded, the C-5 took-off for Russia in support of the rescue effort.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command rallied to assist rescue efforts to save seven Russian sailors stranded aboard a submarine off Russia's Pacific coast.

According to AMC officials, the command generated a number of airlift and air refueling missions since called on for support Aug. 5, a day after the mini-submarine, an AS-28, became tangled in an underwater cable during a military exercise near the Kamchatka peninsula.

The crew was rescued Aug. 7 when an unmanned British submersible cut the mini sub loose.

Col. Kathy Cosand, a senior controller with the Tanker Airlift Control Center here, said a C-5 Galaxy returning to Travis AFB, Calif., was diverted to Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., to pick up a team of Navy personnel and two unmanned rescue vehicles, called Super Scorpios. Once the personnel and equipment were loaded, the C-5 continued to Russia non-stop with the help of Air Force aerial refueling aircraft.

According to a Travis AFB press release, the C-5 carried Navy personnel and equipment to waiting Russian ships which then sailed to the stranded submarine.

"Lives are on the line and we're ready to aid however we can," said Col. Michael Cassidy, 60th Operations Group commander at Travis AFB as AMC responded to the emergency. He added that the AMC mission was to get the equipment and personnel to the rescue site as fast as possible to assist in the safe recovery of the stranded Russian sailors.

The AMC mission included even more support. A second airlifter, a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the Mississippi Air National Guard was tapped to pick up more rescue equipment from Morgan City, La., and begin its non-stop flight to Russia.

A third C-17 assigned to Charleston AFB, S.C., was called in to pick up a deep sea drone at Andrews AFB, Md, where after a quick crew change at McChord AFB, Wash., was to proceed nonstop to Russia.

Colonel Cosand said Air Force aerial refueling aircraft were used during each airlift mission to extend the range of the airlift aircraft and expedite the delivery of the rescue equipment.

She said the "folks" in AMC worked nonstop since receiving the request to help in the rescue.

"There has been a lot of coordination and a lot of people leaning forward on this," said Colonel Cosand, adding that "A lot of great thinking from a lot of great people” went into making the mission happen and to get the job done “with no complaints."

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