Submarine Matters provides an expanding database on submarines worldwide. Australia should contract in 2016 to only buy a batch of 6 Shortfins - then, in the 2030s, decide whether to buy: 6 more Shortfins or 6 Barracuda SSNs or 4 Virginia SSNs. With increasing numbers of Chinese, Russian and Indian SSNs in Australia's region Australia's Shortfins cannot attain any 2016 Defence White Paper goal of being "regionally superior". Australia would need to buy SSNs to be "superior".
September 8, 2015
Australian Submarine Rescue Ship MV Besant and friends
An often forgotten submarine matter on the blogosphere is submarine rescue. Australia has two new submarine rescue ships - described below. They use a range of mini-sub and UUV appliances to save crews from stricken submarines. Mini-submarines for rescue (weighing around 20 tonnes)can be airlifted by C17 (or larger) aircraft within trucking distance of the rescue ships.
In Australia's region Singapore has one rescue ship and further afield Japan has two, ASR-403 Chihaya II (of 5,450 tons) and AS-505 Chiyoda (3,650 tons). Chiyoda will soon be
replaced by a new vessel of 5,600 tons.
[Australian Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, Rockingham, Western Australia] "The latest enhancement to Navy's submarine search and
rescue capability steamed into her new home at Fleet Base West, Rockingham,
Western Australia recently [mid 2015]. As one of two ships being acquired to further
enhance the capability, [motor vessel] MV BESANT will be the submarine escape gear ship.
The 83m ship will embark a side-scan sonar, and the
SCORPIO SC45 remotely operated vehicle [see photo below] to conduct surveys, damage assessment,
debris removal from around the rescue seat and deploy transponders for the LR5
rescue vehicle [see photos below] tracking system, and recompression chambers to provide medical
support to submarine escapees.
Submarine Escape and Rescue Manager, Commander Ken Marr,
said that the delivery of the ships would enhance Navy's existing capability.
"Planning is well underway for BLACK CARILLION 15,
our annual submarine and escape and rescue exercise, where MV BESANT will play
an important part as we utilise and incorporate her many functionalities into
our existing procedures.
"The longer 93m rescue gear ship, MV STOKER [after the Commanding Officer of submarine AE2], is
currently undergoing final fit-out and is scheduled to join MS BESANT in early
"Both vessels will provide more flexibility to
respond," Commander Marr said.
Both ships will be operated by Defence Maritime Services
and will provide a long term and extremely capable role in supporting submarine
escape and rescue activities. Being larger ships than the existing vessel, MV
Seahorse Standard, the ability to embark more personnel such as medical and
other rescue system members will ensure sustained operations can be conducted
at sea. Enhanced onboard medical facilities and the ability to accommodate a
full submarine crew will also ensure the best medical support is provided.
The acquisition of MV BESANT and MV STOKER will replace
the existing submarine escape and rescue support vessel, MV Seahorse Standard,
which may be redeployed to the east coast of Australia in late 2015."
MV Besant's stern showing crane. MV Seahorse Standard is on the right. (Photo courtesy CPOIS David Connolly (photographer) Royal Australian Navy Daily)
The ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) SC-45
"Scorpio" (for search and debris removal etc) from James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service is craned outboard
from ADV Ocean Shield. It is being used to locate submarine HMAS Farncomb on the sea floor in the East
Australian Exercise Area during Exercise Black Carillon 2013. (Australia Defence Image Library here and here).
Air transportable LR5 rescue vehicle from James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service. Following text based on. Lines are attached to the James Fisher Defence LR5 rescue
vehicle by a Franmarine underwater services swimmer in preparation for
recovering the LR5 onboard the MV Seahorse Standard. The Australian Navy has completed a
successful personnel transfer from the submarine HMAS Waller, while it sat on
the seabed off the West Australian coast. The LR5 weighs 21.5 tonnes so a large aircraft, large truck, rescue ship (or US submarine?) is required to move it.