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JFD completes build of first third generation submarine rescue system

Warship Technology: March 2018Submarine Rescue

UK-based JFD, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, has a longstanding reputation for the design and construction of submarine rescue systems, having provided services and training to 80 countries and 33 of the world’s navies including the UK Royal Navy, Australian, Singaporean, and South Korean Navies, as well as providing the NATO Submarine Rescue System.


The latest project in which it is involved is the delivery of two flyaway submarine rescue systems for the Indian Navy, including Deep Search and Rescue Vehicles (DSRV), Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS) equipment, Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) systems, and all logistics and support equipment required to operate the service.


The equipment was designed, manufactured, integrated and tested by JFD prior to shipping in March 2018 for final commissioning and trials. The full, certified systems are due to delivered to the Indian Navy in June 2018, under the terms of a £193 million (US$268.6 million) contract awarded to the British company. The DSRVs underwent factory acceptance tests at the end of November 2017, ready for integration trials in December 2017 and harbour acceptance tests in January 2018. A training programme for 72 personnel from the Indian Navy also commenced towards the end of 2017 at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, Scotland, where JFD is familiarising the team with all aspects of submarine rescue from theory through to operation as part of a structured training programme, before beginning operational exercises on the new systems.


Speaking shortly before the first submarine rescue system was due to be delivered, Giovanni Corbetta, managing director of JFD said: “Speed and reliability is key in conducting safe and effective submarine rescue operations to ensure that the submariners are reached as quickly as possible to minimise the risk the situation poses to their lives.


“The reliability with which any flyaway submarine rescue system can be deployed must be carefully balanced with its effectiveness and capability once on site. It is essential that the system has the capability to conduct safe rescue operations in any given circumstance and under widely varying conditions including sea states and depths.


“We have invested significantly in the development of our third-generation system, conducting an extensive research and development programme against a set of generic, but well-considered and representative requirements.


“The third-generation system represents a step-change in submarine rescue capability, and was specifically designed to provide a comprehensive and highly capable submarine rescue service whilst ensuring the system is as quick and simple to mobilise as possible to maximise the chances of a successful rescue.”


All of the technology utilised in the system has already been proven in service. Whilst innovative in arrangement, the methodology is built on tried and tested approaches and therefore requires little shift in operating doctrine, existing procedures, training and crewing competencies.


As an integral part of the system, the submarine rescue vehicles have been designed to operate at the leading edge of capability whilst also being optimised to be easily transported by as many different aircraft types as possible. This greatly increases the number of available aircraft to transport the system, minimising the time required for mobilisation.


The third-generation concept incorporates an innovative new system design and tightly integrated components to ensure time-to-first-rescue (TTFR) – the time measured between system deployment and commencement of the rescue – is minimised. In the event of an accident, this maximises the chances of a successful rescue, which is crucial in protecting the lives of submariners.


In developing the design JFD has incorporated a number of enhancements that have greatly reduced the deck footprint and weight of the system, ensuring quicker mobilisation.


The DSRVs are capable of diving to greater depths than earlier units, with a crew of three and up to 17 rescuees. The medical hyperbaric complex can treat and decompress up to 90 personnel at a time. The launch and recovery system was designed to handle the DSRV in conditions up to and including sea state 6. A pair of self-contained generators is capable of providing a fully redundant electrical supply to the entire system.


Speaking exclusively to Warship Technology in February 2018, Ben Sharples, JFD’s business execution director, explained that one of the submarine rescue systems would be based on the west coast of India, with the other on the country’s east coast. The fact that the systems are identical means that there will be commonality in components, parts, logistic support and training. The second system for the Indian Navy is due to be delivered later in 2018.


Sharples explained that the third-generation system had been in development for 6-7 years, and incorporates a great deal more systems integration than first- and second-generation rescue systems, and was designed in such a way to ensure that the logistics of deploying and operating it was simplified and enhanced. Reducing the time to first rescue was also a paramount consideration in the design of the system, he explained, noting that JFD believes there are at least five firm requirements for similar systems from other navies, although the timescale for acquisition of further systems varies from navy to navy.


Bespoke training
As highlighted above, The Underwater Centre, one of the world’s leading providers of subsea testing and training, based on the tidal waters of Loch Linnhe in Fort William, recently delivered two bespoke remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and hyperbaric system acquaintance training courses as well as providing 19 days of operational support to JFD as part of their training delivery to the Indian Navy.


Training delivery began with a specialist diving team creating and delivering a theoretical and practical four-day hyperbaric systems acquaintance course to 12 delegates covering topics such as hyperbaric systems, chamber control and procedures, gas handling and analysers, plus an overview of decompression tables. Delegates also received practical experience of our barge-based saturation system; diving bell, transfer lock and main chamber.


For the practical training, JFD teamed up with U-Boat Worx with the provision of their SYS3.21 three-person submersible allowing the delegates to become familiar with submersible operations.
JFD also used a range of The Underwater Centre’s facilities to store and mobilise the submersible, as well as deliver the training; including 30-tonne crane, mechanical workshop, classrooms, FRC, workboat fitted with a crane and flat-bed truck.


A theory and vessel-based bespoke two-day ROV acquaintance course was also created and delivered, incorporating the centre’s onshore workshop, work-class ROV (WROV) VMAX simulator and vessel-based operational WROV and launch and recovery system (LARS).


Delegates received a range of informative lectures around ROV systems, standard operational procedures including pre-dive checks and LARS procedures. The bespoke course concluded with practical learning on-board a dedicated WROV vessel where LARS operations and procedures were practiced.