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RAN to receive submarine rescue capability

Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne has confirmed that the Royal Australian Navy will receive a new sovereign air transportable Submarine Rescue Service capability as part of a new agreement with Phoenix International (Australia).

The Department of Defence has awarded Phoenix International (Australia) the Submarine Rescue Service (SRS) contract valued in excess of $255 million and H.I.Fraser’s wholly owned subsidiary, H.I.Fraser Hyperbaric Solutions (HIFHS), is will act as a key subcontractor during the acquisition phase of this venture. 

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The service will be based in Western Australia, the Defence Minister confirmed, and will "support both the Collins Class submarine force and the Attack Class submarines for the next 25-plus years."

While Phoenix International (Australia) will be responsible for the overall project, HIFHS is the hyperbaric system integrator responsible for the niche, technically-challenging aspects of the SRS.

HIFHS has been awarded the design and build of the entire hyperbaric suite, a containerised medical treatment facility, its associated equipment and a medical patient tracking system. The SRS, when entered into service in 2022, will provide Defence the most advanced air-transportable rescue system in the world.

Minister Pyne said, "The new system is being designed and built specifically to support the capability requirements of the Navy and will be both air and road transportable, capable of being deployed on a range of vessels. The 2016 Defence White Paper clearly outlines the importance of supporting the new submarines with an upgraded submarine rescue system."

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The rescue system will be accepted into operational service in 2022 and will be just one of four air transportable systems in the world. The 'primary mission' of the system is to deliver rescue capability to RAN's submarine fleet, the system will also be capable of supporting other submarine operating nations through the use of the NATO standard escape hatch.

With 50 per cent of the world's military submarines expected to be operating in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030, the capability to respond to distress signals firms to be an important responsibility of nations operating in that region, which Minister Pyne echoed.

"The flexibility this capability will bring means it can be rapidly deployed in support of a distressed submarine anywhere in Australia's area of operation," Minister Pyne confirmed. 

Chris Williams, managing director H.I. Fraser Group welcomed the news, telling Defence Connect, "We are really excited that we have been given the opportunity to provide a system integrator and engineering, design and manufacturing role for such a significant program like this."

The project is expected to create over 55 jobs, with the acquisition phase of the system valued at $255 million with Australian industry content at about 80 per cent.

"This is a great example of Australian ingenuity with a number of great Australian SMEs working together to provide a world class, bespoke system to Phoenix International," Mr Williams added.

The work will be carried out at both the Sydney and Perth facilities of H.I.Fraser, which over the last 50 years have served as the premises for maintenance of niche safety critical gas and liquid systems on every major naval platform in Australia, including Collins Class submarines, Hobart Class, Canberra Class, Anzac Class and Huon Class mine hunters. 

"I congratulate Phoenix International (Australia) on their lead role in delivering the new submarine rescue system along with a range of small and medium Australian companies supporting the system design, manufacture, testing and in-service operation of the capability," Minister Pyne said.

RAN to receive submarine rescue capability
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