TITLE: Submarine Shallow
Water Rescue Capability
ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS391,
Submarine Escape and Rescue Program Office
OBJECTIVE: Develop a solution
to enhance the current submarine rescue capability to support shallow-water
DESCRIPTION: The Submarine
Rescue and Diving Recompression System (SRDRS) provides quick response,
worldwide capability to rescue the crews of Disabled Submarines (DISSUBs). The
design of the SRDRS system supports submarine rescue from a bottomed submarine
with an intact personnel compartment, to depths up to 2,000 feet seawater
(fsw), up to an internal pressure of 5 atmospheres absolute (ata), and up to 45-degree
list or trim. The Navy currently has no capability to rescue survivors from a
DISSUB with an internal pressure of 5 ata at a depth less than approximately
400 fsw. A solution to allow for pressurized rescue in waters less than 400 fsw
is sought. There currently exist no known commercial technological solutions
for shallow water mating under pressure, which is why the research and
development is needed.
When the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM) mates to a DISSUB, the hydrostatic
compressive force from the difference between the exterior sea pressure and the
interior air pressure holds it in place. To maintain the PRM’s transfer skirt
contiguous to the DISSUB rescue seat, this force must be greater than the
external forces (umbilical load, hydrodynamic drag from ocean currents, sea
state effects, etc.) that are acting to slide, lift, twist, and topple the PRM
from the DISSUB. As a result, shallow water operations are limited by
The PRM Safe Mating Envelopes (SME) identify the minimum mating depth, such as
the shallowest depth measured to the DISSUB hatch/mating seat, necessary to
provide a sufficient hydrostatic compressive force. This is determined based
upon the magnitude of the prevailing water current, and the PRM yaw angle
relative to that current. A 0-degree yaw corresponds to a head current, while
a 90-degree yaw angle corresponds to a beam current. The SME’s address mating
scenarios where the DISSUB has a list – port or starboard – of 0, 15, 30, or 45
degrees. The SMEs are based upon a DISSUB internal pressure of 1 ata, which
requires adjustment by adding 33 feet for every additional 1 ata that the
internal pressure increases, and are applicable up to sea state 4 (wave heights
of 4.1 to 8.2 feet) or below.
At this time, based upon the current SMEs the shallow water-mating limit of the
PRM is 264 fsw at 1 ata with a 0-degree yaw angle, a 0 degree list, and a 0
knot current. When internal DISSUB pressure is increased to 5 ata, this
results in the shallow water-mating limit being adjusted to 396 fsw.
Consequently, the Navy has no capability to rescue survivors from a DISSUB with
an internal pressure of 5 ata at a depth less than approximately 400 fsw. This
results in a gap to the Submarine Rescue mission such that the Navy cannot
safely conduct rescues of DISSUBs in more than 40% of rescuable waters.
PHASE I: Research and provide
a conceptual solution such that the SMEs allow for pressurized rescue in waters
less than 400 fsw. This concept must use modeling and simulation to
demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed solution. The objective would be
conducting safely a pressurized rescue of a DISSUB up to 5 ata at a depth of
100 fsw, with a threshold of 200 fsw, and 0-45 degrees list. The Phase I
Option, if awarded, will include the initial design specifications and
capabilities description to build a prototype solution for controlled testing
in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan.
PHASE II: Based on the Phase
I results and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop, build, and deliver
a small-scale prototype of the proposed design solution to conduct controlled
proof of concept testing. The prototype must be capable of being pressurized
up to 5 ata to simulate DISSUB internal pressure rescue requirements. Evaluation
and testing will provide empirical data verifying mating capabilities in
shallow water at increased internal pressures at 0 and 45 degrees list. Prepare
a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy production
and potential commercial use.
PHASE III DUAL USE
APPLICATIONS: Pending successful prototype testing, assist the Navy in
transitioning the technology to Navy use and deliver the full-scale design
solution for installation onboard the PRM. Upon installation, conduct testing
and evaluation to support certification that will operationally prove the
ability of the PRM to safely provide pressurized rescue in shallow waters at 0-
and 45-degree list.
Due to the lack of a clear solution to address the increase of mating
capabilities, dual-use applications of the potential technology are unknown at
this time. Upon determination of viable concepts, this determination will be
1. Naval Sea Systems Command,
PMS391, Concept of Operation for the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression
System (SRDRS) Revision 7; 14 October 2009
2. Naval Sea Systems Command,
PMS391, 0A-SRS-OVERVIEW&CL-PM-2-5; Submarine Rescue System Mission
Scenarios; Operating Checklists & System Overviews 0A Procedures Manual
3.Gibson, Jim and English,
Jim. “Pressurized Rescue Module System (PRMS); U.S. Navy’s Future Submarine
Rescue Vehicle.” OceanWorks International Corporation, January 2002. http://oceanworks.com/admin/sitefile/1/files/OW2002_Pressurized%20Rescue%20Module.pdf
KEYWORDS: Submarine Rescue
Diving and Recompression System (SRDRS); Shallow Water Submarine Rescue;
Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM); Safe Mating Envelopes (SME); Atmospheres Absolute
(ata); Remotely Operated Vehicle
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