U.S. Navy Returns To Deep Sea RescueMC2 Kyle Carlstrom, Jacksonville.com
29 July 2015
Crew members from Undersea Rescue Command (URC) and contractors from Phoenix Holdings International (Phoenix) completed an operational readiness evaluation (ORE) July 19, re-certifying the Navy’s deep sea submarine rescue capability.
The submarine rescue system had undergone an extensive refurbishment period.
The ORE, a component of crew certification, was the final step in a multistage process that enabled the URC-Phoenix team to become rescue-ready for worldwide submarine rescue.
“This was a tremendous effort by our rescue team, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) in restoring this unique capability,” said Capt. Gene Doyle, commander, Submarine Squadron 11 (CSS 11), who is responsible for administrative and operational oversight of URC. “Whether it’s a U.S. submarine, or a partner nation submarine, URC is ready to respond if called upon.”
Dedicated and professional submariners combined with robust and redundant submarine systems ensure that submarines are inherently safe. In addition, the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS), operated by URC-Phoenix, provides a last line of defense for the rescue of a submarine crew.
The Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM-1) Falcon, which is the submarine rescue vehicle component of the SRDRS, is capable of diving to depths up to 2,000 feet and mating with a disabled submarine trapped on the sea floor. The SRDRS is capable of being flown anywhere in the world to rescue either U.S. or partner nation submariners in distress.
The initial effort of the overall re-certification process was the restoration of PRM.
Key milestones during sea trials included three deep dives, the first of which was an unmanned 2,000-foot dive to verify hull and component integrity at the crushing depth of 61 atmospheres absolute, which is more than 900 pounds per square inch.
The third and final sea trials dive was a manned 2,000-foot dive in the PRM to a training fixture called “Deep Seat” to verify full system operational capability in the harshest conditions expected in a submarine rescue.
The final phase was the ORE, which was a scenario-based event that took the entire URC-Phoenix team through a rigorous simulated submarine rescue using SRDRS aboard HOS Dominator off the coast of Santa Catalina Island in Southern California.
The crew had to execute SRDRS evolutions and PRM dives, including drill anomalies, under timed constraints to conduct a simulated submarine rescue. In addition, PRM open-hatch operations were conducted at depth along with treatment of simulated medical conditions expected from those rescued.
“Re-certifying the Falcon put us right back into the deep sea rescue world,” said Kimsey, “Not only can we supply a deep sea rescue response for our submarines, but for anyone else in the world. We’re already looking to future engagements and exercises in 2016.”