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Providence submarine museum sinks

Crews worked Tuesday to contain an oil spill from the Russian Sub Museum in Providence's Collier Park. (Stew Milne/Associated Press)

PROVIDENCE -- An old Soviet submarine used as a floating museum sank and was completely submerged in the Providence River after being battered by a powerful northeaster earlier this week.

All that could be seen of the Russian Sub Museum yesterday was about 2 feet of its periscope, and workers said it could be months before it is open again.

"We got hit with a freak storm with astronomical high tides," the ship's engineer, Damon Ise, said.

A tidal surge paired with direct and powerful easterly winds from the storm Sunday and Monday pushed the sub up onto a shoal adjacent to where it is anchored along the western bank of the river, Ise said. Then water began seeping into the inoperable sub, which is not watertight.

The sub was listing to its left, or port, side Monday. Late Tuesday night, the sub tipped farther and sank, Ise said.

Museum officials said they believe that the sub is filled with water, though they do not think the instruments are damaged.

Ise said the sub, alternately designated as K-77 or Juliett 484, is the only submarine of its kind in the United States.

"For those of us who put a lot of time into this, it's heartbreaking," he said. K-77, launched in 1965 as part of the Soviet Northern Fleet, is about 282 feet long and 31 feet wide, and it was diesel powered.

A salvage company was working on a plan to bring up the sub and pump out the water, Ise said.