(left to right) Adm. Paolo La Rosa, chief of staff of the Italian Navy, greets members of the Retired Italian Sailors Association during a historic visit to Submarine Base New London, Groton, Conn.; The Italian air-independent propulsion (AIP) equipped submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro(S-526) prepares to pull into port at Naval Station Mayport. (Below) Crew members from theSalvatore Todaro(S-526) prepare to pull into port at Naval Station Mayport.
Italian submarine ITS Salvatore Todaro (S-526) pulled into Naval Station Mayport, July 11, the first visit by an Italian submarine to the United States since World War II.
Salvatore Todaro’s visit is in support of their participation in an upcoming Joint Task Force Exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. The exercise demonstrates the continued commitment of the U.S. and Italian navies to building stronger relationships.
Salvatore Todaro, with a 27-man crew, is the first Type U212A vessel and entered into service just over two years ago. Italy is gradually replacing the Sauro-class units with new Type U212A vessels which operate a fuel cell air-independent propulsion system.
The former Soviet submarineJuliett484 is surfaced after having been at the bottom of the Providence River for more than a year. Navy and Army divers along with federal, state and local authorities raised the sunken former Soviet submarine at Collier Point Park in Providence.
A joint Army-Navy salvage team raised the former Soviet submarine Juliett 484, also known as K-77, July 25 from the bottom of the Providence River.
More than 100 active and Reserve Sailors and Soldiers, mainly from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO (MDSU-2) based in Norfolk, Va., and a small contingent from the U.S. Army Dive Company from Fort Eustis, Va., have labored since June 1 to raise the submarine.
“It’s just a massive feeling of accomplishment that I can’t really put words to,” said Navy Chief Warrant Officer Two Dale W. Kasztelan, salvage master for the operation. He added that it’s been “a great joy to see the culmination of all the painstaking work that’s taken place from planning phases through to today.”
The 1960’s-era Soviet cruise missile submarine-turned-museum sank at the pier during a nor’easter on April 17, 2007. Juliett 484, also known as K-77, led a storied life prior to her sinking, including a brief stint as a floating vodka bar in Helsinki, Finland and as the titular submarine in the film “K-19: The Widowmaker.”
Preparing to raise the submarine from the muddy bottom required both considerable planning and unique diving salvage skills.
“Tunneling under the submarine, that’s something you rarely get the opportunity to do as a Navy diver,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Eppleman.
Divers ran lift bands underneath the hull through the tunnels opened using water jets. The lift bands were attached to inflatable pontoons and these, combined with eight pumps that had been placed inside the submarine to provide dewatering, gave the sub enough stability and buoyancy for a safe controlled surfacing.
“You can spend 20 plus years and never get a chance like that and it really gets your heart pumping,” added Eppleman.
Now that Juliett 484 has been brought back to the surface the Army and Navy operation is nearly complete, but she still faces an uncertain future.
“We don’t know what the conditions are inside, because only the divers have been inside,” said Bill Sheridan, deputy executive director of the Russian Sub Museum, the non-profit organization that owns the sub.
“Until it’s dewatered and until we get a look at it we won’t be able to tell whether there’s anything to salvage, or whether it will be beyond our capabilities. We’ll go one step at a time.”
This salvage project offered a real-world training opportunity that required military, community and interagency resources and planning.
“The Innovative Readiness Training program (IRT) has made this possible and gives us a big advantage over traditional training,” said Command Master Chief Ross Garcia.
Expeditionary combat salvage, a capability central to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s adaptive force packages, has been made even more viable by Department of Defense IRT program funding. IRT is a program designed to improve military readiness and to simultaneously help rebuild America.
Naval Sea Systems Command out of the Washington Naval Yard and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit 2 from Norfolk also provided on-site logistics and support for the operation.
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