Submariners practice world-class rescue skills

Published on Mr Andrew Bujdegan (author), LSIS Brenton Freind (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Farncomb (S74), Exercise BLACK CARILLON, East Australian Exercise Area (EAXA)

HMAS Farncomb sails in company with ADV Ocean Shield from Fleet Base East with the Sydney Opera House in the background, as both vessels make their way to the East Australian Exercise Area for Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.  (photo: LS Brenton Freind)
HMAS Farncomb sails in company with ADV Ocean Shield from Fleet Base East with the Sydney Opera House in the background, as both vessels make their way to the East Australian Exercise Area for Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

An intensive three week submarine escape and rescue exercise has drawn to a close off the east coast of Australia.

During Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013, members of Navy’s Submarine Force simulated being evacuated from HMAS Farncomb, which was bottomed in 112 metres of water, in the James Fisher Rescue Service LR5 submersible.

The 21.5 tonne submersible was then lifted onto the deck of a rescue vessel, where its passengers were transferred into decompression chambers without being exposed to the outside air pressure.

The James Fisher Rescue Service LR5 Submersible was mobilised from its base at Henderson, WA, flown by RAAF 86 Wing C17 Globemaster to the east coast and then embarked on Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield.

The LR5 submersible clears the water as it begins its recovery after a successful personnel transfer with HMAS Farncomb in the East Australian Exercise Area during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

The LR5 submersible clears the water as it begins its recovery after a successful personnel transfer with HMAS Farncomb in the East Australian Exercise Area during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

Commander Submarine Force, Captain Mark Potter, RAN, said while it’s unlikely the equipment will be needed, maintaining the capability is essential.

“Submariners are an important part of naval capability. Should the unthinkable happen, it is essential that we have established and well practiced procedures in place to rescue personnel,” said Captain Potter.

“During BLACK CARILLON, Navy worked closely with defence partners and contractor James Fisher Defence to mobilise and test the equipment on the east coast. It was also the first time that ADV Ocean Shield was used as the mother ship. Her size and ability to dynamically position proved to be an invaluable capability during the rescue operation.

“Navy’s underwater medical specialists also played a vital part in the exercise. Type B decompression chambers were tested and life-saving medical techniques aimed at preventing and responding to decompression sickness were simulated,” said Captain Potter.

LCDR Daniel Booth views the operation of the LR5 submersible from inside HMAS Farncomb's control room in the East Australian Exercise Area during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

LCDR Daniel Booth views the operation of the LR5 submersible from inside HMAS Farncomb's control room in the East Australian Exercise Area during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

This was the twelfth time the Royal Australian Navy had conducted a submarine escape and rescue exercise.

“By routinely testing our procedures, we provide confidence to our submarine workforce,” said Captain Potter.

Australia is also a member of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Organisation, which would provide international support, should an Australian submarine be disabled.

Able Seaman Medic David Cusack sits in the Type B recompression chamber as part of familiarisation training onboard ADV Ocean Shield during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

Able Seaman Medic David Cusack sits in the Type B recompression chamber as part of familiarisation training onboard ADV Ocean Shield during Exercise BLACK CARILLON 2013.

More imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132279