20 July 2006
JAMBOS CHIEFVLAD SPLASHES OUT ON SUB
HEARTS owner Vladimir Romanov has made his most extraordinary signing yet by buying a Soviet nuclear submarine.
Romanov has purchased the the historic K19 sub on which he once served as a conscript. He plans to turn it into a Moscow-based meeting place to build links between submarine veterans from Russia, Scotland and other countries.
Submariners aboard the K19 famously averted a catastrophic nuclear explosion off the coast of north America in 1961 after a malfunction in a reactor.
A number died as a result of the incident, the story of which was made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. In May, Romanov invited some of the K19 survivors to be his guests at the Scottish Cup Final and to meet Royal Navy veterans
The millionaire last night hailed the vessel as the most special buy he has ever made. He said: "I am very proud to be doing this. The K19 is important for me personally but it is also part of the history of the Cold War. I recently had three unforgettable days at my old base of Gadzhiyevo along with some of the hero submariners who served on the K19 at the time of the nuclear accident.
"It was very emotional. I didn't think it would be possible ever again to see the bay and the submarines in their berths. But we met sailors and officers and looked around the garrison. They even let us play football on their pitch."
Romanov has bought the main section of the submarine, including its conning tower, and will have it painstakingly restored to its original condition.
He said: "I will get it restored by September and then it will be moved to near Moscow and put back in the water. Around it we will build a club for submarine veterans with a little hotel for them to stay in."
Romanov refused to disclose how much he paid for the sub. He said: "It's not about money for me. It's about my most precious moments and preserving something important I had a unique chance to save.
"This is not a business for me. The main thing is to provide a focal point for submarine veterans from Russia, Scotland and other countries."