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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Submersibles Carry Out Polar Practice Dive

Two deep-sea submersibles made a test dive in polar waters Sunday ahead of a mission to be the first to reach the seabed under the North Pole.

It took an hour for Mir-1 and Mir-2, each carrying one pilot, to reach the seabed at a depth of 1,311 meters, 87 kilometers north of Russia's northernmost archipelago, Franz Josef Land in the Barents Sea, Itar-Tass reported.

"It was the first time a submersible had worked under the icecap and it proved they can do this," Anatoly Sagalevich, the pilot of Mir-1 was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass as he left the sub.

As the Arctic icecap thins as a result of global warming, a race is looming to claim ownership of the rich energy resources under the North Pole.

The mission involves a nuclear-powered icebreaker clearing a path to the Pole for the expedition's flagship Akademik Fyodorov. This will launch the submersibles to scoop samples from the seabed for research.

The mission will also plant a flag on the seabed under the Pole to claim the territory symbolically for Russia.

International law states that the countries with territory inside the Arctic Circle -- Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United States and Russia -- can claim only a 320 kilometer economic zone around their coastlines.

But since 2001, Russia has claimed a slice extending as far as the North Pole, arguing that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are part of one continental shelf.

n A surge in air pressure damaged a ballast tank on a nuclear submarine during repairs but the incident was minor, a Navy spokesman said Friday, Interfax reported.

The incident happened Thursday aboard a Northern Fleet submarine as it underwent repairs at a dockyard in the White Sea port of Severodvinsk.

An official in the local administration said earlier Friday that there had been a small blast. But Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said there was no explosion and no one was hurt in the incident.