Used to be that if you were aboard a sunken submarine, your best hope for rescue was to grow a set of gills—fast. Now, however, the US Navy can reach and extract sailors who are in over their heads with this deep-diving 16-passenger ROV.
The Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System (SRDRS) is a 183-ton remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of diving 2,000 feet below the waves, mating with virtually any nation's disabled submarine, and ferrying up to 155 crew members to the surface. The SRDRS has been developed to replace the less capable Mystic class Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV), the US Navy's existing sub rescue system, which requires tethering to a mother submarine and takes much longer to deploy during an emergency.
The new system consists of four parts: the Assessment/Underwater Work System (AUWS), the Submarine Decompression System (SDS), the Pressurized Rescue Module System (PRMS), and various PRMS Mission Support Equipment. The AUWS includes the Atmospheric Dive Suit 2000 (ADS2000), a one-man, pressurized hard suit that allows a first responder to quickly locate and inspect the downed sub on the seafloor, then find and clear the rescue hatch. A PRMS, such as the US Navy's PRM Falcon, is then launched from a floating mother ship to descend to the wreck.
Once it has mated with the rescue hatch, two attendants help evacuate and transport sailors from the sub directly to the surface, maintaining a pressure of up to 5 atmospheres (this saves loads of time waiting to decompress each shuttle-load on the way back up top). Once topside, evacuees are loaded into the self-contained SDS, which consists of a hyperbaric transfer chamber connecting a pair of 36-person deck-mounted decompression chambers.
At just 183 tons, the SRS is small enough to fit on most commercial and military transport aircraft and seafaring vessels.The system can move via land, sea or air from its home port, at the Deep Submergence Unit at the Naval Air Station San Diego, CA , to arrive within 72 hours at an emergency site anywhere in the world.