US Navy introduces remotely operated submarine rescue vehicle to the world
The US Navy has announced that effective September 30, 2008 the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System (SRDRS-SRS-RCS) is the primary deep sea rescue asset for the USN submarine force. This system, which can be considered the world’s most advanced and technically capable rescue system, replaces the DSRV submarine rescue vehicles MYSTIC and AVALON that have been the world bench mark for submarine rescue systems for nearly 40 years.
The key element of the SRDRS is the Pressurized Rescue Module System (PRMS) and its associated launch and recovery system and support assets. These are highly innovative and technically advanced systems that were designed and built by OceanWorks International. The entire multi-million dollar system has been specifically engineered to integrate advanced remotely operated vehicle technology with manned systems for optimum performance.
The US Navy announcement follows the recent return of the system from the highly successful NATO BOLD MONARCH submarine rescue exercise in Norway. The exercise brings together submarines and submarine rescue systems from 24 nations to practice and demonstrate search and rescue capability. The PRMS not only demonstrated its effectiveness as a rescue system but also demonstrated its fly-away capability since it was shipped to the site by a single Antanov 124 heavy lift aircraft.
During the exercise the OceanWorks’ unique tethered, remotely operated rescue system completed mates with submarines from 3 nations and successfully transferred over 200 passengers from the submarines.
Following Bold Monarch, the PRMS conducted equally successful operations with the Chilean navy during which submarine crews and officials were transferred to and from a submarine, which remained on bottom overnight during the two day exercise. This exercise marked the first ever demonstration of rescue capability for Chilean submarines and demonstrates the truly international capability of the SRDRS system.
The PRMS is capable of operating in depths of more than 600 meters. The 8.2 m long system has been weight optimized for air transport. The single rescue compartment is unique in the world in its layout and configuration and carries 18 people with capacity to carry more in special circumstances. The patented articulated skirt allows the system to mate faster than any other system in the world and can accommodate angles up to 60 degrees without compromise to personnel safety.
OceanWorks is located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is 20 minutes drive from Indian Arm where water depths exceed 220 meters. It is only an 11 hour water transit to Jervis Inlet where water depths exceed 660 meters. These fjords like inlets allow testing to be completed 12 months of the year even in the most extreme weather conditions.
This allows OceanWorks to test and deliver systems fully certified and evaluated at maximum operating depth. As a result, all testing and training takes place under actual operational conditions. The builder’s sea trials for the PRMS included a complete submarine rescue mating simulation and comprehensive operator training.
Jim English, Vice President of OceanWorks says that the design, delivery and operational success of the new US Navy system has resulted in a significant advancement to international submarine rescue technology and capability.
“Our capability in North Vancouver allows our engineers, designers, technicians, system operators and even administrative staff to work side by side during the entire process from initial concept through the completion of sea trials and training” he said. “We have a world class capability and a “one stop shop” that provide our customers with a truly integrated approach to system design and commissioning.
“This staff interaction means that the entire team truly understands the complexities required for sophisticated system design and the absolute requirements for safety and performance.”
“We are extremely proud to have been able to take remotely operated rescue vehicle technology from its first generation REMORA, developed for Australia in 1995, to this truly innovative 21st century space ship like system that is now replacing the what was previously the world’s best submarine rescue system – the DSRV.”
Mr. English further stated that: “We worked closely with the US Navy and other members of Team OceanWorks, to develop the PRMS using a combination of state of the art remotely operated vehicle technology, control and navigation systems and weight optimized fabrication methods and hull materials to produce this system. Its unlimited power supply combined with automatic navigation and articulated mating skirt features means that mission success is virtually guaranteed under the most extreme operating conditions.
“The PRMS now has fully proven capability to support submarine rescue anywhere in the world. In addition, the unique articulated skirt has the ability to mate with the most advanced nuclear and conventional submarines without delays associated with hatch preparation and angle adjustment that are limited in other designs.”
OceanWorks is the world leader in the production of atmospheric diving systems and boasts similar capability in its range of submarine rescue equipment, ocean observatory systems and remotely operated tooling systems used by oil and gas, scientific and military customers. They also provide offshore intervention services with the HARDSUIT QUANTUM and atmospheric diving systems.
Now that the SRDRS has been activated by the US Navy, ongoing training and exercises are regularly scheduled. OceanWorks is part of the team based in San Diego California that is responsible for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the system.
Rod Stanley, CEO of OceanWorks said: “This is an outstanding achievement for our team who has worked long and hard to turn the concept into reality. The ability we have developed to meet stringent military certification standards supplements our existing ISO9001-2000 quality system in producing high specification manned and unmanned systems. We look forward to further evolution of submarine rescue technology in parallel with our other capabilities for both manufacturing and services.”
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