Dynamic Monarch 2014, which is currently underway off the coast of Poland, is the world’s largest submarine rescue exercise. It is designed to test international forces’ interoperability and ability to respond to submarines that have become disabled anywhere in the world.
The Russian Kursk disaster in August 2000 caused officials from the world’s navies to realise that due to differences in national escape egress systems, systems incompatibility would make submarine rescues difficult, if not impossible. As a result, most submarines today have switched to interoperable emergency egress systems, making it possible for humanitarian rescue efforts to occur using submersibles such as NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS).
During Dynamic Monarch 2014, Poland, NSRS has been mating with submarines from NATO member nations Poland and The Netherlands, and NATO partner Sweden.
“NSRS is a very safe and proven system to rescue the sailors of a stricken submarine,” said Senior Pilot Supervisor Tom Heron.
The Submarine Rescue Vehicle (SRV) component of NSRS, called Nemo, is capable of rescuing 12 sailors at a time during a stable emergency, or as many as 15 during a time of constrained emergency.
The 30-ton Nemo can be utilised world-wide, transported by plane or by ship, and can operate in excess of depths of 610 meters. The seven-year old submersible is owned by Norway, France and Great Britain.
When called upon, Nemo’s crew would be launched from the surface, manoeuvre to a stricken submarine, latch upon the sub’s egress hatch and then transfer sailors to the surface.
“The Nemo can operate underwater for up to four days,” Heron said. “When Nemo drops down to a submarine a great number of factors can determine the likelihood of affecting a rescue. Nemo can latch onto a submarine laying on the sea bottom at as much a 60 degree list.”
During Friday’s training, Nemo was lifted off its cradle on the Swedish vessel HSWMS BELOS and deposited into the Baltic Sea. After systems safety checks were performed Nemo submerged and approximately 35 minutes later dropped to a depth of 90 meters to latch onto the hatch of the Dutch submarine HNLMS BRUINVIS. The successful mating proved that in an actual emergency, Nemo could safely rescue the 60 BRUINVIS sailors.
“Dynamic Monarch is important because it brings together a wide variety of public officials from many countries working toward a common goal,” said Commander Jeroen Van Zanten, Royal Netherlands Navy. “It brings divers, technicians, engineers, and medical experts, who all come to work and observe these systems and build relationships for those who serve on the seas. Such operations serve to prove that we can do this, that it works and it builds confidence for our submariners who can see that these systems do work. They can see that in time of need they can be rescued.”
Exercise Dynamic Monarch 2014 wraps up on 22 May off the coast of Gdynia, Poland.
Press Release, May 21, 2014, Image: NATO