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.

The US Navy also uses air-transport, trucks but then "mother" submarines which utilise the high speed of the US Navy's all nuclear propelled submarine force while maintaining secrecy

Various alliances, organisations and companies pool submarine resources to save submariners of allies and competitors (like Russia). I don't know whether China has a submariner rescue agreement.

Photo courtesy Jan de Vries MarineTraffic MV Besant (3,600 tonnes gross) completed 2015 and the somewhat heavier MV Stoker.


LCDR Guy Burton (author), CPOIS David Connolly (photographer) in the Royal Australian Navy Daily reported 16 July 201 :

[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.

Named after Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant,Commanding Officer of First World War submarine, AE1, the vessel will be used to provide an early intervention role in the event of a disabled submarine.

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 Jan 16.

"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.

In October 2015 MV Besant was involved in Exercise Black Carrillon 15 which involved transfer of crew from HMAS Rankin using an LR5.



Anonymous said...

We should not forget the Royal Swedish Navy's HSwMs Belos with its submarine rescue vehicle URF, which can resuce 35 people in one go.

PLAN has, according to Wikipedia, 10 submarine resuce vessels, divided into four different classes.


Peter Coates said...

Hi /C

Yes looks like from is large with URF large enough to rescue a whole average Baltic size submarine (Swedish, German, Polish, Norwegian) crew in one lift. The Russian Kilo crews may need two lifts.

There's also

With the Chinese PLA Navy's large number of subs and fairly steep development curve 10 rescue ships sounds right.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete (ver.2)

JMSDF has two submarine rescue ships [ASR-403 Chihaya (2nd,5,450t), AS-505 Chiyoda (3,650t)], not four ships. Chiyoda will be replaced by new submarine rescue ship (5,600t) budgeted 2014 FY. ASR-401 Chihaya (1st) and ASR-2 Fushimi were decommissioned in 1989 and 2000, respectively.


Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thanks for the corrections. I will change the text accordingly.