DATE=8/17/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA SUB - SURVIVORS TALK (L) NUMBER=2-265590 BYLINE=NICK SIMEONE DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The crew of the crippled Russian submarine in the Barents Sea is likely fighting fatigue, cold and severe headaches brought on by a shortage of oxygen -- if in fact they are still alive. That's what submariners who have survived other submarine sinkings tell V-O-A's Nick Simeone. TEXT: Gerald McLees was one of the lucky ones who survived the sinking of the U-S-S "Squalus" off the coast of New Hampshire 61 years ago. Now 85 years old, he and other submariners -- 26 of whom did not survive -- were trapped in the cold waters of the North Atlantic for 36-hours. /// MCLEES ACT /// We were in pitch dark, no power, no lights, no heat and we were not moving around because they'd given us the word not to move around and try to conserve all the oxygen we could and we were laying down in our beds, in our bunks, as we called them, and I laid down and covered up to try to keep warm. /// END ACT /// But Gerald McLees at least had signs from above that help was on its way. /// MCLEES ACT /// If they're there, they must be going through hell. We had to start communicating by Morse code, by us tapping on the hull of our submarine and they were sending underwater Morse by their sonar equipment. /// END ACT /// Clifford Smith was on board another U-S submarine, this one conducting a secret mission during the 1950s off the coast of what was then the Soviet Union. The Russians spotted the sub, forcing it to go without oxygen for several days. It was an experience that he imagines those 100-plus Russian submariners must now be going through, if they're still alive. /// SMITH ACT /// You're down there without too much oxygen in the air and a build up of carbon dioxide and you have shortness of breath and headaches. It looks awful because they've been down since Saturday and not knowing what kind of equipment they have. None of their equipment that runs by electricity, oxygen generators or C-O-Two (carbon dioxide) absorbers would not be running if they didn't have power so it kind of looks kind of grim. /// END ACT /// The biggest unanswered question is what caused the Russian submarine to sink. John Pike, a defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, thinks all this talk about surviving cold temperatures and little oxygen may be beside the point. /// PIKE ACT /// The Oscar class submarines are the biggest, toughest, meanest submarines the Russian Navy has ever built. They're designed to be virtually unsinkable. For this submarine to be on the bottom of the ocean, it obviously encountered a major problem that almost certainly has flooded a good chunk of the submarine and probably killed a significant fraction of the crew more or less immediately. /// END ACT /// (SIGNED) NEB/NJS/JP 17-Aug-2000 13:13 PM LOC (17-Aug-2000 1713 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .