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Russian sub has left the city

For the three years, The Pier attraction that never was has had a bumpy stay in St. Petersburg.

[Times photo: Fred Victorin]
City workers and members of the press stand at dockside Tuesday morning as the submarine is towed out of Bayboro Harbor in St. Petersburg. The vessel may eventually be used in a movie starring Harrison Ford.

By JOUNICE NEALY

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Ending an ignominious three years in the port of St. Petersburg, an orphaned Russian submarine was towed away Tuesday to Tampa, a preliminary stop before it hits the silver screen.

It's out of the port," said St. Petersburg Port Director Michael D. Perez. "It's been a very long day but a good day.

The sub left St. Petersburg about 8:30 a.m., after a towing crew spent about 35 minutes getting it ready to transport. It had been scheduled to be moved Monday but high winds postponed the towing.

After an inspection by an insurance company, the sub is expected to be moved up north, possibly Nova Scotia.

Last week a production company signed an agreement with the sub's owners to use the Juliett class guided missile launcher in K-19: The Widowmaker, Perez said. Harrison Ford is under consideration for a starring role in the movie about a crew's attempt to avoid a nuclear meltdown on board.

The sub came to St. Petersburg nearly three years ago, destined to be a tourist attraction at The Pier.

It never happened.

During two attempts to tow it from the port to The Pier, the sub was damaged and the move was aborted.

The first time, it broke loose from its tugboat during a storm. The sub docked at the port, where it opened for tours. During a second attempt, it was damaged again and returned to the port.

Then the submarine's Canadian owner filed for bankruptcy, and it was closed to tourists. After the bankruptcy filing, the sub reverted to its original owner, Oy-Sub Expo of Finland.

Three months ago, the city's attorneys were authorized by the St. Petersburg City Council to file an injunction in federal court to get the sub out of the port. But council member Bill Foster said the council later agreed to give the Finnish owner a chance to move it.

Oy-Sub Expo still owes the city about $35,000, but Perez said that attorneys are comfortable with an arrangement that would reimburse the city.

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