Russian sub joins rescue exercise
British rescue teams have taken part in the first Nato exercise to involve a Russian submarine.
Exercise Bold Monarch, held off Spain's south-east coast near the city of Cartagena, saw about 2,000 experts from more than 20 countries practise recovering stricken submarines after a disaster at sea.
Four submarines - the Alrosa from Russia's Black Sea fleet, as well as vessels from Portugal, Spain and Turkey - simulated disappearing from their last known positions and becoming stranded on the seabed.
Rescuers using specialist diving equipment and vehicles descended to help the trapped submariners.
In a symbolic gesture, crew from the US submarine rescue diving and recompression system exchanged flags with Russian sailors on board the Alrosa after docking 490ft below the surface.
Other equipment employed in the exercise included the Nato submarine rescue system, based at Faslane in Scotland and jointly owned by the UK, France and Norway, which operates at a depth of up to 2,000ft and can recover up to 15 people at a time.
The drill also involved a British rapid reaction parachute team trained to land in the sea and assist a stricken submarine with first aid, supplies and communications.
Russia's involvement came nearly 11 years after 118 of its sailors died on board the Kursk submarine when it crashed to the bottom of the Barents Sea in August 2000.
Bold Monarch, held every three years, is the world's largest submarine rescue exercise and is aimed at improving international co-operation between navies.
The 12-day training drill, which runs until June 10, will conclude with a 48-hour operation to practise evacuating 150 survivors, including many casualties, from a disabled submarine.