Presented by Rear Admiral Jan Jaeger, Retd.
(Royal Norwegian Navy)
2. Main topics
Norway has a long tradition and an impressive record of rescue operations at sea. We are operating one of the major merchant navies, as well as a modern and comprehensive fishing fleet, not only in the vicinity of our own coast, but also all over the world. The international regime for saving lives at sea has always been respected, in peace, in time of tension and in time of war. Respect for the sailors are high in Norway, consequently also for their lives, regardless if we are talking about merchant or military personnel.
Next year, Norway has operated submarines for 100 years. Most of the time, there has been no credible submarine rescue system available for the Royal Norwegian Navy. A single escape system based on free flooding of the whole or of sections of the submarine has existed for the last 50 years. The weaknesses with this concept were many, such as limitations in the water depth, low temperatures and lack of surface support if an accident should occur.
Through the last 25 years we have based our submarine rescue concept on international cooperation, mainly on close relations to the Royal Navy UK and the US Navy, but also to the non-NATO nation Sweden that runs her own submarine rescue system URF (Underwater Rescue Vehicle).
3. NATO Submarine Rescue System
When the US decided to modify their own rescue system and as the UK rescue system LR5 had severe limitations, Norway joined the NATO Submarine Rescue Party together with France and UK and developed the Submarine rescue system for to day and the future.
Our areas of operations are adjacent to the areas were the Russian Navy operates their submarines. The tragic loss of the Russian submarine Kursk resulted in a common understanding that international coordination and standardisation on policies and procedures were necessary in order to be able to respond effectively to such accidents. Consequently Russia and about 40 of the worlds submarine operating nations are now taking part in the NATO led submarine Escape and rescue exercises, the last one off the Norwegian coast in May/ June this year. (3 Chinese Navy Officers were observers to this exercise)
5. The NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS)
From the very beginning, several nations were supporting a NATO Submarine Rescue System to be developed. When the contract was signed in 2003, only France, Norway and the UK were among the signature states. Although the name still is the NATO Submarine Rescue System, it ended up to be cooperation between the NATO nations France, Norway and the UK. The system is jointly owned by these three nations.
The company Rolls Royce won the contract on the design- and the construction phase, and the contract is being managed by the NSRS integrated project team under a UK umbrella, based in Abbeywood in Bristol UK.
The system consists of two sub-systems that can be deployed independently of each other.
Intervention is a smaller system focused around the Intervention Remotely Operated Vehicle (IROV) that can be rapidly mobilized to a distressed submarine (DISSUB) in order to provide initial life support and to prepare the facilities for the Rescue system.
8. Rescue Submarine
The rescue submarine is a more capable free- swimming manned submersible.
9. Portable Launch and recovery System
The on site support units consist of a Portable Launch and Recovery System (PLARS), a Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) decompression system and other logistic support elements.
The system will be able to deploy world wide on short notice. A responds and reaction readiness of 24 hours, 7 days a week through the year will be endeavoured to maintain.
The system is prepared to be deployed by air, rail, road, or by ship. It will be deployed onboard a selected mother- ship and then proceed to the disable submarine.
11. The intervention system
The intervention system is an independent system designed for the first and immediate reaction. The IROV is launched and recovered by a special designed A-frame. The IROV is required in order to locate the DISSUB and prepare the site for the rescue operation. This include to do detailed mappings of the area, check the submarine for dangerous radiation and to provide emergency Life Saving Stores to the DISSUB, such as food, water and medical supplies.
12. The rescue system
The main rescue system is used to recover the crew from the disable submarine. A free- swimming Submarine Rescue Vehicle able to dive to more than 600 meters, locate and connect (mate) on the distressed submarine. When the pressure has been equalized, 15 crew- members from the sunken submarine can be transferred to the rescue vehicle and brought to the mother ship on the surface. The rescue submarine then connects with the Transfer Under Pressure decompression unit for safe decompression of the crew- members. The Rescue submarine then goes for another load of crew- members as required.
13. The Submarine Rescue vehicle
The submarine rescue vehicle is about 9 m long and has a weight of approximately 30 tonnes.
Two pilots and one rescue chamber is the standard crew. Using the Zebra type batteries, the vehicle is able to carry out sustained diving cycles with a minimum charging time between the missions.
14. The portable Launch and Recovery System (PLARS)
The rescue submarine is required to be safely launched and recovered under rough weather conditions at wave height about 5 meters, or at sea state 6. The dedicated launch and recovery system consists of a 100 t A frame supported by a range of heave compensated winches and motion dampers to allow operation in rough weather conditions. The rescue submarine can be recovered without putting swimmers in the water.
15. The Transfer Under Pressure Decompression Facility
The Transfer Under Pressure Decompression System consists of two identical decompression chambers, able to treat up to 72 rescued crew- members and a combination of adjoining chambers allowing rescued crew- members to be transferred from the rescue submarine to the compartments whilst under pressure up to maximum rescue depth. ( 6 bar).
Additional two portable 2-man decompression chambers allow the removal and treatment of individuals together with an attendant.
The portable Navigation Tracking and Communication System is housed into a 10 feet ISO- container.
It has the necessary equipment for tracking the submarine rescue system and all the underwater assets and for the communication between the rescue submarine and the DISSUB. Using a portable acoustic positioning system and deployment system, the rescue team can locate and navigate between the primary assets such as the rescue vehicle, the ROV, the DISSUB and the MOSHIP.
A system called “Checkmate” can offer a more sustained deployment of underwater sensors and sonar beacons as this system is based upon self- burying canisters into the sea bed that prevent the system to drift away or to be destroyed or removed during the operation.
17. Checkmate 2
This system is not yet in service as it is prepared for a wide range of military and civilian tasks. The Checkmate concept is patented, and the owner of the concept is looking for a company or a Navy to take his patented ideas further. The system is also suitable for surveillance and even as a weapon canister in time of war.
However, this is a separate topic for special interested groups. More information is available on request.
18. Support and operational crew
A lot of additional support equipment will be further developed and deployed as a part of the rescue system, such as improved power generators, new and improved IROVs, medical supplies, SOLAS equipment, positioning and the navigation beacon systems as mentioned, etc.
The Royal Navy, The Royal Norwegian Navy and the French Navy will provide the overall command and control personnel. They will also provide the necessary medical staff, TUP operators as well as divers and swimmers.
Rolls Royce will provide the core rescue team to operate and to manage the equipment. They might be supported by various special sub-contractors in key areas such as ROV-pilots and other specialist areas.
19. Summary (Bold Monarch)
The NSRS was tested and proved as in the Exercise Bold Monarch in May/ June 2008. This was the first comprehensive SAT for the system. Minor amendments will be done until the final tests have been carried out in September this year.
The system will then be declared operational. However a system like this will always be subject for further developments and improvements. The submarine crews should know that if by accident a rescue situation should occur, the latest state of the art equipment, manned by the absolutely best qualified and drilled crew and staff elements will be tasked to rescue them.