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Navy Research Submarine Has Caught Fire Off California Coast

Aired May 22, 2002 - 07:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news out of the Pentagon. A Navy research submarine has caught fire off the California coast. Let's go right now to Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, for more details -- good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula. This is the USS Dolphin, a Navy research submarine that caught fire, we are told now, within the last several hours, about 50 miles off San Clemente Island off the coast of southern California.

We want to tell you that all 43 crewmembers have been rescued from the submarine. They were taken off in the last several hours by another Navy surface ship in the area, and we are also told that additional equipment is on the way.

We don't know if the fire is still ongoing at this minute, and of course, there is no indication as to what caused it. But when a submarine catches on fire, it's always a very urgent situation to get the crew off as quickly as possible.

This is a very interesting Navy research submarine. It's one of the most high-tech pieces of equipment the Navy has. It serves as a test bed for some of the Navy's most advanced sonar and other equipment. It is tested on the Dolphin, and then it is put on Navy operational submarines after it completes its test program.

The Dolphin also holds the world's record in diving to deep depths. Its record recorded test depth is 3,000 feet. We are told by the Navy this morning that is an unmatched world record.

So at the moment, the crew is off. Other vessels are on the way. They are trying to deal with the fire, and try and rescue that high- tech piece of equipment -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Barbara Starr, thanks for bringing that to us this morning.

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