Summer 2012

Submarine rescue exercise success

In May and June James Fisher Defence took part in Black Carillon, a Royal Australian Navy exercise to test its systems for the safe evacuation of a stranded submarine.

The submarine rescue capability of the Royal Australian Navy is provided by James Fisher Defence in the form of the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service. For the exercise, five distinct phases were to be tested, comprising mobilisation, system handover, workup, exercise and demobilisation. 

During the mobilisation phase James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service (JFSRS) transferred the rescue suite and associated systems from Henderson to the Defence Maritime Services (DMS) vessel Seahorse Standard (SHS). This was conducted at the Common User Facility at Henderson instead of at the HMAS Stirling naval base (Fleet Base West) in order to test the system’s ability to deploy from a commercial sea port. Initial workup was conducted together with navy personnel, in nearby Cockburn Sound. Both the LR5 manned submersible and the Scorpio 45 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) were launched and recovered in approximately 20m of water in order to check the system functionality and the capability of deck teams in a sheltered environment.

The main part of the exercise took place at sea in the Western Australia Exercise Area. Here, Collins class submarine HMAS Waller was bottomed to simulate a submarine that had suffered a catastrophic event and was unable to reach the surface. The ROV was used to conduct a hull survey and ensure the escape tower upper hatch and surrounding area were undamaged and free from obstructions. If required, the ROV is equipped with two manipulators, one of which has a cutter and could remove obstructions from the submarine. The LR5 submersible was then launched to conduct rescue operations. 

In total the LR5 successfully transferred 44 people and spent over 23 hours submerged. A casualty evacuation exercise was conducted where a medical team was inserted into Waller and an immobile patient was stabilised and removed from the submarine to the surface. Continuous cycles of the LR5 were conducted in order to obtain an indicative time for the rescue of an entire submarine crew. The exercise was seen as a great success by all involved, with all key objectives met or exceeded. The rescue system proved it was more than capable of rescuing an entire Collins class complement and further demonstrates James Fisher Defence’s capability in the crucial area of submarine rescue.

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