Release date: 05 December 2018

Outstanding success in Australian submarine rescue tests

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Australian submarine crews are safer than ever before after two weeks of rigorous but extremely successful exercises off the coast of Western Australia.

In at times challenging weather conditions, JFD Australia, the world’s leading provider of submarine escape and rescue, partnered with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to conduct the annual “Black Carillon” exercise which tests Australia’s submarine rescue system in a series of scenarios designed to replicate a real-life submarine rescue emergency.

Importantly, the exercises demonstrated the world-class capability of the fully-integrated system that JFD provides to the Australian Government which includes a submarine rescue vehicle (a “mini” submarine with pilot and crew), a transfer-under-pressure chamber and a hyperbaric equipment suite to ensure that submariners receive the best possible medical treatment once they are back on the water’s surface.

A major element in testing the rescue suite this year was a continuously run ‘Rescue Exercise’, which aimed to test the complete system from the submersible through the hydraulics bellows into the transfer under pressure (TUP) chamber where any initial triage of patients could be undertaken.  They then move to the new recompression chambers for simulated treatment depending on the symptoms being exhibited. The exercise, which commenced at early light at 0530 on 19 November and finalised at 1508 the 20 November, involved the launch and recovery of the submersible as in a real DISSUB scenario and necessitated the split manning of all control  points of the suite to cover 24 hour operations. JFD worked seamlessly with the RAN medics and doctors to achieve all exercise objectives. 

 “It is vital that our submarine rescue system can rescue and treat all personnel on board a Collins-class submarine and that is why these annual exercises involving the RAN, JFD’s 100-strong skilled workforce and our extensive supply chain are so critical,” said JFD Australia managing director, Toff Idrus (a former submariner).

“This was the first Black Carillon where we have tested the entire rescue system which also now includes the new hyperbaric equipment suite and the first time we have deployed to sea three times in one year, so there were some big milestones to achieve and I am delighted to say, we achieved each and every one of our goals.”

The RAN also commended JFD on a safe and highly successful Black Carillon:

“I was exceptionally impressed with what you achieved in the exercise and it was clearly evident that you had developed a strong sense of teamwork,” said Captain Geoff Wadley RAN, Commander Submarine Force.

“Speaking to international observers, they were unanimous in their praise for the exercise and the value they all got out of it, a job exceptionally well done.”

This year, using HMAS SHEEAN as the “target” submarine and together with rescue and intervention ships, MV Stoker and MV Besant, JFD was able to conduct a series of simulated rescues in varying depths of water to demonstrate the flexibility and unrivalled range of its submarine rescue system.

Sheltered practices were successfully carried out in 20 metres of water (a key capability that is not available from other global submarine rescue providers), before moving onto mock rescues at depths of 135 metres with the remotely operated vehicle conducting surveys and dives in excess of 375 metres simulating the survey and material check of a disabled submarine.

“In each stage of Black Carillon, it was important to demonstrate that our free-swimming rescue vehicle and surface treatment systems could function no matter what the conditions,” said Mr. Idrus.

“Launching from a ship and diving down to locate a disabled submarine, connecting with its hatch and then safely transferring its crew to safety is what submarine rescue is all about.

“It’s why JFD is the world’s triple-0 number for rescues anywhere in the world.”