The Indian Navy has formally inducted its first flyaway Deep Sea Submarine Rescue System (SRS) during a ceremony at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai on Dec. 12, 2018.
The ceremony was presided by Admiral Sunil Lanba, India’s Chief of the Naval Staff and Chairman – Chiefs of Staff Committee. Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, former CNS/Cs-in-C as well as the senior management of the Original Equipment Manufacturer, James Fisher and Sons Pvt. Ltd, UK were also present during the induction ceremony.
Acquisition of this capability is a significant and pioneering jump in the Indian Navy’s capability in deep submarine rescue, said Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a statement.
The system is built by Scottish underwater capability provider, JFD (part of UK-based James Fisher and Sons plc).
Under the £193m contract, awarded in March 2016, JFD is providing two complete flyaway submarine rescue systems, designated 3rd Generation Submarine Rescue System (SRS), to the Indian Navy. Each system includes DSRVs (called as Deep Search and Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) by JFD), Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS) equipment, Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) systems, and all logistics and support equipment required to operate the service.
The first DSRV was delivered at Mumbai (west coast) in April this year and the second DSRV, slated for Vishakhapatnam, is expected by the year end (east coast).
The first vessel has completed a first full launch deployment, dive and recovery in open sea, replicating the operating conditions of a real submarine rescue operation. The DSRV also completed its air transportability trials using an Indian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 strategic military transport aircraft.
The Indian Navy currently operates diesel-electric attack submarines of the Sindhughosh (Russian Project 877EKM Kilo), Shishumar (German HDW Type 209), Kalvari (French DCNS Scorpene) classes as well as two nuclear powered submarines – Russian Project 971 Akula-class attack submarine, INS Chakra, and indigenous ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant.
The operating medium and the nature of operations undertaken by submarines expose them to high degree of inherent risk. In such an eventuality, traditional methods of search and rescue at sea are ineffective for a disabled submarine. To overcome this capability gap the Indian Navy has acquired a third generation, advanced Submarine Rescue System (SRS) consisting of a Non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) and its associated equipment.
The Indian Navy joined a select league of Nations worldwide with the sovereign capability, in fly away configuration, to search, locate and rescue crew from a disabled Submarine. The Deep Sea rescue system would have a global footprint and can be mobilised from the Naval base at Mumbai to the nearest mobilisation port by air/land or sea to provide rapid rescue to the Submarines in distress. The newly acquired capability would be operated and deployed by the crew of Indian Navy’s newly formed Submarine Rescue Unit (West) from its base in Mumbai.
The Indian Navy’s Deep Sea Submarine Rescue System is capable of undertaking rescue from a disabled Submarine upto 650 m depth. The DSRV, which is operated by a crew of three, can rescue 14 personnel from a disabled Submarine at one time and can operate in extreme sea conditions (upto Sea State 6).
Indian Navy has signed a contract with state-owned shipbuilder, Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) for construction of two Diving Support Vessels (DSV) capable of operating the DSRVs. The first vessel will be built over a 36-month period and would be followed by the second, six months later. Once constructed, the DSVs will have a length of 118 m and a displacement of approximately 7,650 tonnes.