The new kit – a hyperbaric equipment suite and a transfer under pressure chamber – was launched at a ceremony at JFD Australia’s advanced manufacturing headquarters at Bibra Lake, in the southern suburbs of Perth.
The new hyperbaric equipment suite helps submariners rescued from a disabled submarine to overcome the life-threatening effects of being rescued in pressurised waters.
JFD Australia general manager Toff Idrus, a former submariner, said the new equipment means the entire crew of a RAN submarine can be treated simultaneously.
"The innovative and world-class equipment which JFD has delivered means up to 86 people can receive life-saving medical treatment in the hyperbaric equipment suite and pressurised transfer chamber at any one time," Idrus said.
"Given a Collins Class submarine usually has a crew of 48, the increase in capability represents a significant evolution of submarine rescue services in Australia, to the point where the new system is the safest ever seen in Australia."
The hyperbaric equipment is the final step during a submarine rescue, which begins with rescuing the crew from the disabled submarine into a JFD free-swimming rescue vehicle, carrying them to the surface and safely onto the deck of a rescue ship. From here, the submariners are moved through the transfer under pressure chamber, with doctors on hand to monitor their wellbeing as they move into the hyperbaric equipment suite for further recovery.
“In the event of an underwater emergency, the ability to bring people potentially under pressure at depth to the safety of the surface with minimal risk of decompression sickness or exposure is critical for Australia’s defence capability and national security," Idrus explained.
"We know that lives depend on our expertise and that’s why JFD is constantly evolving our submarine escape and rescue service to help ensure the men and women of the Australian Defence Force are kept as safe as possible, even in worst-case scenarios."
The new equipment took two years to build using a highly skilled workforce of some 100 engineers and tradespeople within JFD.
JFD Australia’s team – together with local supply-chain companies – are now conducting systems integration for the new equipment.
"JFD Australia has developed world-leading local knowledge and skills in submarine rescue which are so important when you are dealing with a challenging ocean environment, confirming our reputation as a provider of proven, safe and reliable submarine rescue service to the Australian government," said Idrus.