NATO’s Submarine Rescue System
A new submarine rescue system, owned jointly by France, Norway and the UK, has completed trials off the coast of Norway. The “SRV1” system is managed by the UK MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support team on behalf of the 3 nations. When in service it will be managed by In Service Submarines Integrated Project Team, and based at Faslane on the Clyde. Like its predecessor, the “SRV1” can be loaded into aircraft for fast response. Once it is declared operational, the existing LR5 rescue submersible and Scorpio remotely operated vehicle will leave operational service, and SRV1 will provide future rescue capability at an expected whole-life cost of GBP 157 million over 30 years.
The system consists of a free-swimming rescue vehicle with an A-frame portable launch and recovery system, a transfer-under-pressure facility to safely decompress personnel from a pressurised submarine, and an intervention system for survey and rescue preparation…
“SRV1” is designed and built by Perry Slingsby System Ltd of Kirkbymoorside. It will have a crew of 2 pilots and an attendant, can rescue 15 people at a time and will normally operate a 4-hour cycle, with an expected cycle of no more than 72 hours from notice received to deployment anywhere in the world. Once on station, it can operate in sea state 6 (5m/16 ft high waves) and remain on station in 10m/30 ft seas. SRV1 is powered by advanced sodium nickel batteries with higher power-to-weight/space ratio than the lead acid batteries used in current rescue vehicles, and a fibre optic umbilical provides video, communications and data link to the command team on the mother ship.
The NATO Submarine Rescue System will complement the new US Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System based in San Diego, which is also due in service in 2008. As the Kursk incident proved, these vehicles are available for use worldwide, on behalf of any country who asks for them. UK MoD release.
Events and Updates:
March 20/08: The UK MoD announces that SRV1 has successfully linked up with the Norwegian submarine Uredd while 87 metres underwater in Husnes Fjord, just south of Bergen in Norway. It and also completed a deep dive to 610 meters. The UK MoD admits that some of the deep water acceptance trials were not fully completed, but the trial was declared a success anyway. This is the final stage of a 3-year design and manufacture period, under a 10-year contract with Rolls-Royce Power Engineering that includes support and operation.
Future tests will include hatch operations at depth, angled ‘mating’ up to 60 degrees, and the ability to recover the vehicle from rough seas. April 2008 will include a 2-day medical exercise with the French MV Argonaute, air-portability trials will continue in the summer, and there may be full participation in NATO’s exercise ‘Bold Monarch’ off Norway in late May and early June 2008.