In a range of weather conditions, JFD’s fully-integrated submarine rescue system demonstrated its robustness and reliability in the triennial exercise Pacific Reach.
Exercise Pacific Reach is a multi-lateral series of exercises, hosted in 2019 by Australia with the participating nations of South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the United States and many other observing countries from the Indo-Pacific region.
Designed to simulate a real-life submarine rescue emergency using Collins-class submarine HMAS Sheean (SSG 77) and South Korean submarine, ROKS Lee Sunsin (SSK-068), Pacific Reach, which this year was held in tandem with the annual Black Carillon exercise, tested all aspects of JFD’s rescue system which includes a free-swimming, piloted submarine rescue vehicle that is designed to locate and “mate” with a disabled submarine and a hyperbaric equipment suite to provide submariners with life-saving medical treatment once they are back on the water’s surface.
Importantly this year, along with a series of shallow exercises, the system also successfully completed two deep dives of 400 meters, securing annual certification for this critical sovereign capability.
The 26-day deployment also included a mass evacuation exercise conducted over 36 hours.
This involved six separate exercises as 25 Navy personnel rescued 45 submariners with a variety of simulated injuries and conditions and transported them under pressure to the surface for medical treatment in JFD’s world class hyperbaric equipment suite.
“Never before have we tested our system to the very limits of its design capability and I am delighted to say it performed exceedingly well both in its reliability and flexibility,” said JFD Australia’s Managing Director, Mr. Toff Idrus (himself, a former submariner).
“It was an extremely long and demanding exercise which included specialist equipment installation and de-mobilization phases and that there were no reportable incidents, accidents or injuries is a clear demonstration of our world-leading safety standards.”
“It was also extremely pleasing for our staff and supply chain to be complimented by global submarine rescue experts on the exceptional material state of the full kit and its ability to operate so seamlessly, it really did show that JFD is the world leader in submarine escape and rescue.”
Across the four weeks, which relied heavily upon the management and technical skills of JFD’s team of more than 40 engineers, operators and tradespeople, the submarine rescue system also successfully completed:
• 23 submarine rescue vehicle sorties
• 72 hours of dive time
• 75 dives
• 16 dives of the remotely operated vehicle
• 21 hours training
• 16 newly trained and qualified personnel in a variety of positions
“Keeping submariners and other defence force personnel safe has been and will always be JFD’s highest priority,” said Mr. Idrus. “At our Australian headquarters in Perth, we are proud to be “rescue-ready” at 12 hours’ notice to respond to a disabled submarine anywhere in the world. “But what is also critically important is having the opportunity to work with our regional partners and to demonstrate our trust and confidence in each other’s ability to carry out an extremely challenging rescue operation. “Each and every one of us is focused on saving lives.”