Russian Submariner’s Day: a bittersweet celebration

Mindful of lost comrades, the submarine service celebrated Submariner's Day on Monday, with the navy's top admiral saying that despite problems Russia's subs were still a force to be reckoned with. An assembly with an honour guard and speeches by top officers was held at the Naval Engineering Institute in St. Petersburg. Fourteen graduates of the institute were among the 118 sailors who died when the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in August. A stone memorial plaque was unveiled at the city's Naval Institute of Radio and Electronics, four of whose graduates died. The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea off Russia's northern coast. The government is still investigating, but, according to the AP, several Russian and foreign experts say the likely cause was the explosion of a torpedo in the weapons bay. In Moscow, Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, commander of the Russian navy, said that the world still heeded Russia's submarine force, which he said was second only to that of the United States. Thanks to this, ''the leading players of world politics consider our interests despite a situation where the country is still in crisis,'' he was quoted as saying by Interfax. Money troubles since the 1991 Soviet collapse have curtailed the building of new submarines and the ability of remaining ones to patrol as they once did. Russia continues to train new submariners, however. ''Submariners are a special brotherhood,'' Vice Adm. Rudolf Golosov said on ORT government television. ''Either all come to the surface or no one does. On a submarine, the phrase all for one and one for all is not just a slogan, but reality.''