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    Russia to deploy 2 Panther underwater rescue vehicles by fall

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    MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will begin operating two Panther deep-sea rescue vehicles by September 2006, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday.

    "By September this year, we will start operation of two Panther deep-sea vehicles," Ivanov said. "We have purchased them and their crews are currently being trained."

    Ivanov said the rescue vehicles would be deployed at the Leningrad military district in St. Petersburg, but that if necessary could be used anywhere in the world.

    The decision to purchase and use deep sea rescue vehicles was made by military commanders following an incident in the Bering Sea last August, when a Priz AS-28 with seven sailors on board became trapped in a fishing net at a depth of about 620 feet. It was released after three days when an unmanned British deep-sea rescue vehicle, Scorpio 45, cut the cables and freed the mini-sub.

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