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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Admiral Says the Navy Will Buy an Underwater Panther

The Navy's chief of staff said on Friday that the Navy would buy a Panther, a remote-controlled underwater vehicle similar to the one flown in by Britain to help free a mini-submarine that was trapped with seven men aboard deep in the Pacific Ocean.

Although the seven survived the four-day ordeal, the accident and Russia's appeal for outside help underlined the Navy's insufficient equipment.

Admiral Vladimir Masorin said the Navy would buy a $3 million Panther, which he described as a more modern device than the Scorpio sent by Britain that succeeded in cutting through cables that had snagged the mini-sub.

On Tuesday, Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Viktor Fyodorov said Russia would buy two Scorpios, but Masorin's announcement indicated that the Panther would be bought in place of one Scorpio. Masorin said the Navy tried to deploy a remote-controlled underwater vehicle called a Venom at the accident site, "but when they started to use it, they used it incorrectly -- it was spoiled by our people," RIA-Novosti reported.

He said the Panther would be based in St. Petersburg, where a specialized unit of deep-sea divers is based, Interfax reported.

The Panther can dive to a depth of 1,500 meters and weighs about 1.8 tons. It can carry sonars, two multi-function manipulators, a stills camera, various video cameras, inspection and survey equipment, and customized tooling.

The vehicle's British-based manufacturer, Seaeye Marine Limited, developed it for the offshore oil and gas industry.

(AP, MT)