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Australia Rescue Systems

Australia has a service contract with James Fisher Defence (JFD) for its submarine rescue capability on a Contractor Owned, Contractor Operated (COCO) model. The James Fisher Submarine Rescue System (JFSRS) is an air portable system incorporating:

The JFSRS is maintained in the JFD facility located in Bibra Lake, Western Australia at 12 hours’ notice to respond in the event of a SUBSUNK incident. The JFSRS is able to be mobilised to any suitable Vessel of Opportunity (VOO). The Royal Australian Navy usually conducts its training on-board MV Stoker, a 93m purpose built Rescue Gear Ship (RGS) and MV Besant, a 83m purpose built Intervention Gear Ship (IGS). Both ships are operated by SERCO Defence. Deployment plans allow for a period of 48-60 hours to mobilise to the designated Rescue Gear Ship (RGS) and the entire system is certified for air transport using RAAF C-17A Globemaster III aircraft. It is also compatible with USAF C-5 and Antonov An-124 aircraft.

Submarine Rescue Vehicle LR5

LR5 is a manned free-swimming submersible designed to rescue 14 seated personnel at up to 5 Bar (gauge) from DISSUBs fitted with a rescue seat compliant with STANAG 1297. The vehicle consists of two compartments: a Command Module, with two pilots, and a Rescue Chamber manned by the Rescue Chamber Operator (RCO). Both compartments are constructed of steel but only the Rescue Chamber is rated for pressurised operation while the Command Module remains at 1 Bar. Certified for rescue down to 400m, LR5 is launched and recovered from a range of different VOOs using either its own Portable Handling System (PHS) or a suitable Launch and Recovery System (LARS)/A-frame that may already be fitted to the selected VOO.

LR5 being launched using its PHS

Figure 1: LR5 being launched using its PHS

LR5 is designed to operate within the following parameters:

Weather/Sea Conditions Up to 5m Significant Wave Height, subject to MOSHIP.

Minimum surface visibility one nautical mile.
Rescue Depth 15-400m (shallow depth dependent on sea state and currents)
Tide/Current Maximum bottom current 1.5 knots

When ‘mating’ with a DISSUB, this is reduced to 1 knot.
Mating Angle ‘Mating’ can be achieved at up to 10o heel on LR5 or at up to 60o bow up.
Rescuee Capability 14 rescuees at internal pressure of 5 Bar, or 1 stretcher + 6 seated or 2 stretchers cases
Auxiliary Equipment Fully contained within 2 standard containers and 1 half height container.

Includes battery charging, HP air and oxygen charging and workshop facilities.

Portable Handling System (PHS)

The PHS is an air portable dismountable A-Frame designed to launch and recover LR5 in up to Sea State 6 (significant wave height 5m). The system is mounted on specially designed ‘deck stools’ which, if pre-fitted, can significantly reduce the time to mobilise to a VOO. The major components consist of the:

Portable Handling System (PHS)

Figure 2: Portable Handling System (PHS)

Transfer Under Pressure Capability

Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) for DISSUB survivors is achieved with JFSRS by transferring up to 14 personnel at a time from LR5 into the TUP chamber, via the bellows-gimbal system, and then into two separate Recompression Chambers through two flexible manway spool pieces. The TUP chamber is fitted with a hyperbaric shower and toilet. The chamber has four main hatch areas which permit varying configurations on a VOO deck. Up to three medical personnel can be accommodated in the TUP chamber and it is fitted with a scissor lift to assist with stretcher cases. The TUP chamber is air transportable in C-17A, C-5 and An-124 aircraft.

TUP chamber with one flexible manway spool piece fitted.

Figure 3: TUP chamber with one flexible manway spool piece fitted.

LR5 (left) connected to the bellows-gimbal system with TUP chamber

Figure 4: LR5 (left) connected to the bellows-gimbal system with TUP chamber

Hyperbaric Equipment System (HES)

The HES comprises of two 36-man recompression chambers. Each chamber has three compartments - two 14-man and one 8-man seated capacity. Stretcher cases can also be accommodated however six seating positions are taken up by a stretcher. Each chamber is fitted with a hyperbaric toilet and a medical lock services each compartment. Atmospheric and environmental control is managed through automated control panels and the support module containers. The maximum pressure of the chambers is 7 Bar however the nominal working pressure for hyperbaric treatment is up to 5 Bar. Both chambers are fitted within bespoke built 30’ ISO containers. Video cameras and communications are fitted in each compartment. The HES is air transportable in C-17A, C-5 and An-124 aircraft.

36-man recompression chambers

Figure 5: 36-man recompression chambers


The JFSRS Intervention system consists of the 1000m-rated Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Scorpio SC-45 and Klein 3000 portable side scan sonar (PSSS). The ROV is fitted with low-light and normal black and white/colour pan/tilt video cameras, UWT transducer and an AMETEK 250A sonar operating on 107 kHz and 122 kHz. It is equipped with a range of tools including:

The ROV is 2.25m in length, weighs 1.6 tonnes and with its support equipment is air transportable by C-17A, C-5 and An-124 aircraft. It is launched and recovered using an EFFER knuckle boom crane and can operate in currents up to 1.5 kts.

AustraliaScorpio 45 ROV, EFFER crane and umbilical winch Scorpio45

Figure 6: Scorpio 45 ROV, EFFER crane and umbilical winch

The Klein 3000 Digital Side Scan Sonar system has a 2000m tow cable with a maximum operating depth of 1500m. Nominal operations are conducted to 600m with a 3kt tow speed. The tow fish weighs 29kg in air and is 1.22m in length. Operating at 100 kHz and 500 kHz frequencies, it can achieve ranges of up to 600m and 150m respectively. The system has an integrated winch and launch-recover A-frame and can be air transported by C-17A, C-5, An-124, C-130 and B-747F/777F aircraft.

Portable Side Scan Sonar

Figure 7: Portable Side Scan Sonar