Arctic Ocean - (Ass Mess): Russian oil prospectors arrived in a Kursk replica submarine on the Arctic seabed this morning some 14,000 ft below the North Pole and were about to plant their country's traditional skull 'n' crossbones national flag when they suddenly spotted the corporate logo of the Chevron Oil Company embedded into the sea floor in a huge 100 metres x 100 metres gold plaque emblazoned with its company motto: 20 Years Too Late Bolshevik Morons! with acompanying platinum-plated two-fingered V sign.
The Russian crew had been ordered to plant their rust-proof titanium metal flag and were said to be shocked and distresed to find Chevorn had got there first in 1987.
Russia has tried to lay claim to the vast swathe of Arctic territory for many years. It sent its most intrepid mission leader - the explorer, parliamentarian and hydrocarbons fantasist Artur Chilingarov to the site in yet another ageing rustbucket modelled on the fabled Kursk submarine which perished in August 2000 with the loss of all 188 crew.
Chilingarov told Russian TV news reporters today that he had been certain nobody had beaten his team to the seabed to stake an official claim.
His expedition had set off last week from the port of Murmansk after being told that the return journey to the surface was regarded as the most dangerous part of the mission.
The vessels are at risk being of gttting trapped under the Arctic ice cap unless they know the exact route back to their original entrance point.
And even then they could get horribly stuck if a sudden icy current seals their planned route, trapping them like fruit slices in a congealing gelatine trifle pudding - only a lot less wobbly.
"If they get iced in then this could be like the sinking of the Kursk all over again," said an Interfax source.
"Vladimir Sputum would never live it down!"