The Royal Australian Navy and the Australian government have granted an operational licence for a new $19.7 million submarine rescue system.
The equipment, which consists of a transfer-under-pressure chamber and a recompression treatment suite, is able to withstand and operate effectively in rough seas, meaning that for the first time the whole crew of an Australian submarine can be treated at once using the new hyperbaric equipment.
“What it means for submariners is extremely significant as up to 88 people can now receive life-saving medical treatment in the hyperbaric equipment suite and pressurised transfer chamber at any one time," said Toff Idrus, general manager of JFD Australia.
The system, which took two years to build, will undergo further naval testing and evaluation in August, culminating in the annual ‘Black Carillon’ naval exercises set to be held in November 2018.
JFD provides the Australian James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service use of its 21.5-tonne LR5 free-swimming submarine rescue vehicle (SRV), which is designed to mate with a distressed submarine in the event of an emergency, and transfer the rescued personnel onto the deck of its host ship.
The hyperbaric equipment suite is able to withstand and operate effectively in rough, continuous seas with swells of five metres, conditions not uncommon around the Australian coast. This capability is critically important as the new kit is the final step in a submarine rescue that begins with rescuing the crew from a disabled submarine and transferring them safely into a JFD free-swimming, piloted rescue vehicle, which then carries them safely to the surface and onto the deck of a rescue ship.
The rescued submariners are then moved through the transfer-under-pressure chamber and into the hyperbaric equipment suite, with doctors monitoring their wellbeing and helping them overcome any life-threatening effects that come from being rescued from pressurised waters.
“When you consider that a Collins Class submarine has a crew of 48-60, this new capability is very significant and represents an important milestone for submarine rescue in Australia,” said Idrus.
JFD is a world-leading underwater capability provider, serving the commercial and defence markets with innovative diving, submarine and hyperbaric rescue, technical solutions and services.