Australian Navy hones submarine rescue skills during Black Carillon

The submarine rescue vessel LR5 is launched off the work deck of MV Stoker into the basin at Fleet Base-West for a systems test run during Ex Black Carillon 2016. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy recently completed Black Carillon 16, a three week submarine escape and rescue exercise off the Western Australian coast.

This year’s iteration of the exercise is the 15th in a series of Navy submarine escape and rescue exercises, designed to practice and prove established rescue procedures used in the rare instance requiring the evacuation of personnel from a disabled submarine.

For the first time, the exercise involved two recently acquired Defence Maritime Services-operated submarine intervention gear ships MV Besant and MV Stoker working together and the use of a new transfer-under-pressure decompression chamber.

During the exercise, crew from the simulated disabled submarine HMAS Dechaineux were rescued using the James Fisher Submarine Rescue System submersible, LR5.

Following the rescue, the 21.5 tonne submersible was then lifted onto the deck of MV Stoker and the crew transferred to the decompression chamber without being exposed to the outside air pressure.

A significant part of the exercise was the role of Navy’s underwater medical specialists with a full medical team deployed on board Stoker who simulated lifesaving medical techniques aimed at preventing and responding to decompression sickness.

Besant and Stoker are the latest enhancement to Navy’s submarine search and rescue capability. Besant is named after Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant, Commanding Officer of First World War submarine, AE1 and Stoker is named after the Commanding Officer of sister submarine AE2, Lieutenant Henry Stoker.

Besant is an 83 metre ship that embarks a side scan sonar, and the SCORPIO SC45 remotely operated vehicle to conduct surveys, damage assessment, debris removal from around the rescue seat. She also has the ability to deploy transponders for the LR5 rescue vehicle tracking system as well as carry the recompression chambers.

Stoker is slightly larger at 93 metre, and embarks the submarine rescue system submersible and the decompression chamber as well as enhanced on board medical facilities and the ability to accommodate a full submarine crew.

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