Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) completed the vital repair and recertification of the hull on the Pressurized Rescue Module System (PRM-1 Falcon), the U.S. Navy’s only deep sea submarine rescue asset Feb. 14.
Falcon arrived at the shipyard in April 2013 for complex hull repairs including validation and approval of new welding processes, extensive non-destructive testing, detailed circularity checks and repairs to the hatch system, including the design, manufacture, and validation of numerous special tools. Following these repairs the Hull was tested, in partnership with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock.
“Nearly 200 channels of hull strain gages validated months of first-time quality repair work including photogrammetric inspections of over 2,000 locations.” said Tom Gabehart, PRM project superintendent.
“Additional system components were also addressed by PNS, including correcting alignment and damage on the deck cradle and skid frame, most of which required full volumetric inspections on every production weld.”
PNSY completed repairs and shipped the hull, skid frame and deck back to the Undersea Rescue Command in San Diego, four days ahead of schedule and on budget. Following reassembly, the integrity of the hull will be tested to the same level as initial construction and undergo a rigorous recertification process, including unmanned and manned sea-trials scheduled for early summer. PNSY will continue as the lead maintenance activity for the reassembly, testing and certification.
The mission of the Falcon is to provide a quick response and worldwide capability to rescue the crew of a distressed submarine. The tethered, remotely operated design supports submarine rescue for all U.S. Navy and international submarines certified to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) standards.
Falcon is the critical element of the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System. It has not been deployed for a real-world submarine casualty, but the system has been fully or partially mobilized numerous training exercises including mating at depth to foreign submarines.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, a field activity of NAVSEA, is committed to maximizing the material readiness of the fleet by safely delivering first-time quality, on time, and on budget.
Press Release, March 7, 2014, 2014; Image: US Navy