Tired but happy, seven relieved Russian sailors returned to life after rescuers beat the clock on dwindling oxygen supplies. Asked if they had believed they would be saved from a watery grave, their commanding officer said simply: “Of course.”. They walked steadily off their rescue ship and were led away for medical checks. Things had looked bleak after their mini-sub became entangled in cabling 200 metres beneath the surface off Russia’s far eastern coast. Russian attempts to drag the vessel to safety failed. The situation appeared all too reminiscent of the Kursk sinking five years ago in which 118 seamen died. Finally it was a British unmanned vessel that cut the sub free. Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, overseeing the operation, clenched his fists in elation when it was confirmed that the operation had succeeded. He later made a point of thanking the foreign contribution.