Submariners practice world-class rescue skills

Published on Mr Andrew Bujdegan (author), ABIS Chris Beerens (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Rankin (S78), Exercise BLACK CARILLON

Exercise Black Carillon 2015 participants onboard MV Besant in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia. (photo: ABIS Chris Beerens)
Exercise Black Carillon 2015 participants onboard MV Besant in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia.

The Royal Australian Navy's Submarine Force has exercised responses to the unlikely event of a submarine incident at sea, after completing an intensive four week training exercise which demonstrated the
submarine escape and rescue capability.
During Exercise BLACK CARRILLON 15, members of the Navy's Submarine Force transferred crew from HMAS Rankin, utilising the James Fisher Submarine Rescue System submersible, LR5.  

The exercise also involved two six-person teams escaping from a bottomed submarine using fitted submarine escape equipment. The exercise was also attended by experts from 12 different submarine operating nations.
For the first time, the exercise involved the recently acquired Defence Maritime Services operated intervention ship, MV Besant, which was able to demonstrate the significant capability it brings to submarine escape.  Besant would be one of the first vessels on scene in the event a submarine crew needs to escape from the disabled submarine prior to rescue.

If the situation in the disabled submarine is stable, Besant will use on board equipment to assess the situation and develop a rescue plan enabling LR5 to commence personnel transfer from the stricken submarine almost immediately upon arriving at the scene. LR5 is currently transferred to the site utilising the larger rescue ship MV Seahorse Standard.
MV Seahorse Standard is due to be replaced by the new rescue ship MV Stoker, which is currently undergoing final fit-out and is due to join MV Besant at Fleet Base West, south of Perth, Western Australia, in
February 2016.
Commander Submarine Force, Captain Matt Buckley, hailed the exercise as a success.
"During the series of exercises we were able to re-affirm that our existing capability can save lives in the unlikely event that we ever experience a submarine incident requiring the evacuation of submariners," he said.
"Key exercise outcomes were achieved, and new equipment was proven, validating the process and procedures we have in place to ensure we get the right equipment on site in a timely manner to enable personnel to evacuate a disabled submarine.
"Exercising our organic capabilities along with continued close cooperation with international partners in submarines escape and rescue ensures that we continually refine and improve  our ability to deploy the submarine rescue system.  

"This is important part of  proving we have an effective and seaworthy escape and rescue system and generates confidence across the Submarine
Enterprise," Captain Buckley said.