When people on board a small motorboat trapped by a storm in the northern White Sea radioed SOS, they didn't expect that help would come in the form of a 154m-long nuclear submarine.
On Sunday, the 11-meter boat Barents-1100 was trying to avoid a storm in the White Sea at the north-west coast of Russia, when crew members realized that they were running too low on fuel.
So they sent a distress signal to their home port of Arkhangelsk.
Rescue services dispatched two ships and a Mi-8 transport helicopter to the rescue. But the first one to respond to the call was the Oscar-class nuclear-propelled cruise-missile submarine K-119 Voronezh of the Russian Northern Fleet, which was in the area conducting training, the Defense Ministry reported.
The huge submarine approached the boat just 40 minutes after they asked for help and took four crew members and one passenger aboard.
As the weather was getting worse, the submarine commander decided to keep the civilians on board and take their boat in tow. This proved to be prudent, since hours later the boat was torn away and blown by the winds into the open sea.
The submarine and a warship accompanying it are currently moving to their base in Severodvinsk near Arkhangelsk. The rescues sailors and passengers will be transported to the surface ship as soon as weather permits.
It's not uncommon for the Navy to rescue civilian ships, although usually such operations do not require involvement of nuclear submarines. The previous such case in the Russian Northern Fleet was in January, when the Sierra II-class attack submarine B-534 Nizhny Novgorod rescued three fishermen stranded in the Barrents Sea. In 2012, the K-414 Daniil Moskovsky, a Victor III-class attack submarine, evacuated the crew of a fishing boat merely minutes before it sank.