U.S. Ready to Assist Kursk Rescue Effort
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2000 Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen extended his concern for the Russian sailors aboard the sunken submarine Kursk and repeated DoD’s offer to participate in rescue operations.
“The Defense Department remains ready, willing and able to provide whatever assistance we can to the Russian authorities that they would find helpful,” Cohen said at an Aug. 18 Pentagon news briefing. “We’re waiting to explore this further with them, and we will take every measure that we can consistent with their requests.”
Such assistance, he said, could include:
- An expert team of engineers, divers, medical support.
- An international coordination cell of technical experts.
- Provision of atmospheric suits and diving capability.
Cohen said U.S. and Russian authorities recently discussed possible U.S. participation through NATO channels. The secretary wished success to British-Russian rescue efforts about to get underway.
“There is an inherent sense of camaraderie that is felt by military people that transcends nationality and political differences,” Cohen said. “Our military men and women are not looking at this accident as something that has happened to the Russians, but as something that has happened to fellow uniformed professionals.”
The secretary expressed his concern for the sailors’ families who are awaiting information about loved ones on the submarine, which sank Aug. 12 in the Barents Sea during a naval exercise. Cohen sympathized with the families in this “terrible time of fear and doubt.”
“On behalf of everyone in the department,” he said. “I want to express our concern and hope during this most difficult time.”