Image: Former Soviet sub raised to surface in R.I.
The former Soviet submarine Juliett 484 comes to the surface of the Providence River in Providence, R.I., on Friday.
updated 7/26/2008 6:13:50 AM ET 2008-07-26T10:13:50

Military salvage teams used hydraulic pumps and pontoons Friday to raise a Russian submarine once featured in a Hollywood film that sank in the Providence River last year during a storm.

The 282-foot-long submarine, known as Juliett 484, had been used as the floating Russian Sub Museum until April 2007, when it was swamped after a powerful nor'easter.

The team raised the front of the submarine around 6 p.m., said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Lippmann, a salvage team spokesman. It could take until late Friday night or Saturday morning to elevate the rear of the sub and stabilize it.

Crews were using hydraulic pumps to remove water from the sub and pontoons to raise it to the surface. Military officials said it could take up to eight hours to raise the sub back to the surface.

Poor visibility
The salvage effort was complicated by the river's poor visibility and the 30 feet of water and 15 feet of mud under which the sub is buried.

The sub, alternatively designated as K-77, was launched in 1965 as part of the Soviet Northern Fleet. The Juliett class was initially planned as a nuclear missile platform for strikes against the United States and later tracked U.S. aircraft carriers.

The sub was used in the 1990s as a restaurant and vodka bar in Helsinki, Finland, and as a set for the 2002 Harrison Ford movie "K-19: The Widowmaker" before being acquired by the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, a private, nonprofit group. It opened as a museum in Providence in 2002.

Frank Lennon, president of the foundation, said it would take a while to assess the condition of the sub and to determine if it could be used again as a museum.

"We're not being unrealistic," Lennon said. "The sub has been underwater for 15 months. There's been corrosion. There's been deterioration. We just don't know how much."

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