Russian flag planted on N Pole seabed
After spending an hour on the seabed, Mir-1 and its sister vessel Mir-2 are on their way back to the surface.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking at the ASEAN forum in the Philippines, mentioned his country's mission to the North Pole and explained its goal.
“The expedition aims to prove that our shelf extends all the way to the North Pole rather than to claim Russia's rights. There are scientific ways of doing that. And we hope the expedition including diving to the bottom of the seabed will supply additional scientific evidence for our aspirations,” Mr Lavrov said.
Artur Chilingarov, President of the Association of Polar Explorers of the Russian Federation and the leader of the expedition, said, “Before diving we have to study all the risks. We are installing all the location captors and transmitters. The conditions are very difficult and it is very dangerous. I feel a great responsibility for the lives of every one who's coming down with me.”
At the North Pole's seabed the Mir submersibles have reportedly installed a Russian state flag made of titanium and a capsule with an address to the next generation of polar researchers.
I think Russia needs to come back on the polar scene. The Russian Federation needs to invest more money in the science of the polar regions. It's essential from ecological point of view, it's essential from the political point of view, and it's essential from the biological point of view.
Mr Chiligarov, who's also the Deputy Speaker of Russia's parliament, says the expedition is important both politically and scientifically. Its aim is to show that Russia hasn't given up on its interests in the Arctic.
Swedish pharmaceutical tycoon Frederik Paulsen, a participant and one of the sponsors of the expedition, will be with the Mir-2 submarine during the polar dive. He says he has no problems with financing a mission that could support Russia's political ambitions in the Arctic region.
“I think Russia needs to come back on the polar scene. The Russian Federation needs to invest more money in the science of the polar regions. It's essential from ecological point of view, it's essential from the political point of view, and it's essential from the biological point of view,” Mr Paulsen said.
On Sunday, the submarines Mir-1 and Mir-2 underwent tests. They dived 1,500 metres down and safely returned to the surface. The subs' creator and first pilot, Anatoly Sagalevich, says he is excited at the prospect of diving at the North Pole and assesses the task as tough and quite dangerous.
The most difficult part of the dive is to find a suitable ice-hole whilst the submarines are coming up.
“During the first dive it was much more difficult, we only had 1 hydroacustic captor installed and it had taken us a lot of time to get out of the ice. But in the real dive we'll have three of them installed and it will become much easier to orient ourselves under water,” Mr Sagalevich said.
That is why, during the dive, one of the two vessels taking part in the expedition – the nuclear-powered “Rossiya” – has to go in rounds preventing the ice from freezing at least for eight hours, which is the scheduled time for the dive.