From Team Submarine Public Affairs
The Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System's (SRDRS) Rescue Capable System (RCS) replaced the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle Mystic (DSRV-1) as the U.S. Navy's deep-submergence submarine rescue asset on Sept. 30. Mystic and the DSRV program began deactivation on Oct. 1.
SRDRS is a rapidly deployable rescue asset that can be delivered by air or ground, installed on pre-screened military or commercial vessels of opportunity (VOO) via a ship interface template, and mated to a distressed submarine within a 72-hour time to first rescue period.
Mystic is a small rescue submarine capable of deploying via air or ground to a port where it is mated to a specially-configured submarine which serves as the host platform for the voyage to the disabled submarine.
"Mystic has served the and the international submarine community admirably for the last 31 years," said Steve Schulze, executive director, Undersea Warfare, Naval Sea Systems Command.
"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."
SRDRS is a three-phased acquisition program that will deliver advanced submarine rescue and treatment assets to the fleet. The first phase of the program was the Atmospheric Dive System 2000 (ADS2000) which was delivered to the Navy in 2006. ADS2000 is a manned, one-atmosphere dive suit capable of inspecting disabled submarines and clearing debris from escape hatches. The RCS constitutes SRDRS' second phase.
SRDRS-RCS consists of Falcon, the tethered, remotely-operated Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM), its launch and recovery system, and its support equipment; all of which are controlled from a VOO.
The final phase of the SRDRS program 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 VOOs within hours of notification of a submarine in distress.
Falcon can conduct rescue operations to a depth of 2,000 feet, can mate to a disabled submarine at a list and trim of up to 45 degrees, and can transfer up to 16 personnel at a time. Mystic required its own power source – necessitating a two-hour battery charge between cycles. Because SRDRS-RCS receives its power from a VOO via an umbilical, it can operate around the clock without pause.
"SRDRS has been a tremendously successful program to date," said Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer for submarines. "We took this platform and exercised it in some difficult conditions on the world stage and it performed up to our very high expectations."
SRDRS underwent a unique test and operational evaluation during the international submarine rescue exercise Bold Monarch in May-June 2008. During Bold Monarch, SRDRS demonstrated its ability to mate and transfer personnel from three participating submarines, one each from , the , and . Personnel from the , , , , , , , , , , , , the , , and spent time aboard SRDRS. More recently, SRDRS demonstrated its capabilities during an exercise with the Chilean submarine CS Simpson (SS-21) Sept. 17-18.
"From a testing and certification standpoint, SRDRS has delivered on all of its initial expectations," said Capt. Gary Dunlap, program manager for Advanced Undersea Systems. "This system provides not only the U.S. Navy, but all navies, with a flexible, capable, and – most importantly – rapidly deployable rescue asset."
SRDRS will be based out of , and operated by the Navy's Deep Submergence Unit.