USAF deploys C-17s, C-5M to deliver undersea rescue assets to Argentina

Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs and a C-5M Super Galaxy has delivered the U.S. Navy’s undersea rescue capabilities to aid in the search for the A.R.A. San Juan, an Argentine navy submarine, which went missing in the Southern Atlantic Nov. 15.

Mobility Airmen launched the C-17s, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the C-5, assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis Air Force Base, California, from their home stations Nov. 18.

“The U.S. Air Force takes pride in always being ready and always there to assist those in need,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Air Mobility Command commander. “Moments matter and the AMC team is committed to providing support to our Argentinian partners and friends.”

After departing their home stations, the aircraft flew to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. From there, they will transport the first rescue system, the Submarine Rescue Chamber (SRC) and underwater intervention Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. They are scheduled to arrive in Argentina Nov. 19.

The second rescue system, the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM) and supporting equipment will be transported via additional flights and is scheduled to arrive in Argentina early next week.

The U.S. government is supporting a request from the government of Argentina for international assistance to the ongoing search for the missing submarine and possible rescue opportunities once the vessel and crew are located, according to a press release written by U.S. Southern Command Nov. 18.

“We’re trying to get very specialized equipment down to our partners in Argentina to assist with the search efforts,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy flight engineer. “These are the most motivating missions. There’s people possibly (in distress) and we’re trying to get this equipment on the other side of the world as fast as possible.”

“Our Airmen understand the importance of this mission and the impact,” added Everhart. “We are working closely with our joint service partners and our Argentinian friends to offer assistance and bring various capabilities and expertise to help wherever we can.”

The SRC is a McCann rescue chamber designed during World War II and still used today. SRC can rescue up to six persons at a time and reach a bottomed submarine at depths of 850 feet.

The PRM can submerge up to 2,000 feet for docking and mating, with a submarine settled on the ocean floor up to 45-degree angle in both pitch and roll. The PRM can rescue up to 16 personnel at a time. Both assets are operated by two crewmembers and mate with the submarine by sealing over the submarine’s hatch allowing Sailors to safely transfer to the rescue chamber.

Senior Master Sgt. April Lapetoda, USAF



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