The US Navy has taken delivery of the new submarine rescue diving and recompression system’s (SRDRS) rescue capable system (RCS), which will replace the deep-submergence rescue vehicle Mystic (DSRV-1) as the US Navy’s number one deep-submergence submarine rescue vehicle.

The SRDRS is a rapidly deployable rescue asset that can be delivered by air or ground. The SRDRS can be installed on pre-screened military or commercial vessels of opportunity (VOO) via a ship interface template.

Executive director, undersea warfare, naval sea systems command, Steve Schulz said that the Mystic had served the United States and the international submarine community admirably for the last 31 years.

“Mystic brought new capabilities to the fleet when she entered service in 1977; now SRDRS builds upon those innovations, delivering even greater capabilities to the international submarine community,” Schulz said.

The SRDRS is a three-phased acquisition programme that will deliver advanced submarine rescue and treatment assets to the fleet. The first phase of the programme was the atmospheric dive system 2000 (ADS2000) one-atmosphere dive suit capable of inspecting disabled submarines and clearing debris from escape hatches.

The second phase is the delivery of the Falcon, the tethered, remotely-operated pressurised rescue module (PRM), its launch and recovery system, and its support equipment; all of which are controlled from a VOO.

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The final phase of the SRDRS programme is the submarine decompression system (SDS), scheduled for delivery in late 2012. SDS will allow rescued submariners to remain under pressure during the transfer from the PRM to hyperbaric treatment chambers aboard the VOO.

Unlike Mystic, which could only be transported to the disabled submarine via modified submarines, SRDRS is a ‘fly-away’ system that can quickly and easily be mobilized via large military or civilian transport aircraft and installed aboard a variety of VOO’s within hours of notification of a submarine in distress.

Falcon can conduct rescue operations to a depth of 2,000ft, can mate to a disabled submarine at a list and trim of up to 45°, and can transfer up to 16 personnel at a time.

SRDRS underwent a unique test and operational evaluation during the international submarine rescue exercise Bold Monarch in May-June 2008. During Bold Monarch, the SRDRS demonstrated its ability to mate and transfer personnel from three participating submarines, one each from Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland.

SRDRS will be based out of San Diego, and operated by the navy’s deep submergence unit.

By Daniel Garrun.