Engineers from Kongsberg Maritime have been in the thick of the action in France and Norway during a combined trial and military exercise period involving the NATO Submarine Rescue System - NSRS. The NSRS is an extensive project by the French, Norwegian and UK Navies, to provide a fast response, highly mobile, distressed submarine (DISSUB) rescue platform.
Kongsberg Maritime has played a significant role in the development of the NSRS, having supplied navigation, underwater positioning and communications for the sophisticated new Submarine Rescue Vessel (SRV) and ROV, in addition to developing a Portable Navigation and Command Tracking System - PNTCS designed to permit the Commander of Rescue Forces - CRF to locate, and position a DISSUB.
The PNTCS is based on commercial components configured and packaged for naval operations in very harsh environments. It integrates inputs from numerous navigation sensors to provide a world image of the location of the DISSUB and its orientation, the SRV and any cooperating ROVs, with underwater positioning provided by the HPR 400 system and MST Transponders. The PNTCS is housed in one easily deployable 8 foot by 10 foot ISO container of which the NSRS will use two, to ensure that multiple vessels can share the same data during rescue operations.
The combined trials and exercise period, which saw NSRS operating at sea for 3 weeks, was supported by Keith Needham and Mike Duffin of Kongsberg Maritime Ltd in Portsmouth, who have both been instrumental in installing the Kongsberg Maritime equipment for the project. During trials, the Submarine Rescue Vessel dived and mated with a target in 600m of water (the deepest ever mate by any rescue vessel) in Hardanger Fjord, Norway and took part in its first NATO exercise, called Bold Monarch.
About Bold Monarch
Bold Monarch took place off the picturesque, coastal town of Arendal in the south east of Norway. Kongsberg Maritime's role was to install and operate the Portable PNTCS during the exercise. The exercise involved mating the SRV with submarines from Norway, Poland and Holland with transfer of personnel to and from the surface. PNTCSs were deployed on the French 'Argonaut' and on the Norwegian 'Harstad' support vessels. The operations were observed by representatives from Russia, Turkey, Canada and several other submarine operating nations.
Kongsberg Maritime equipment was involved in a real DISSUB drama in 2005. A Royal Navy Submarine Service ROV used Kongsberg Maritime underwater cameras to navigate and cut the fishing cables that the Russian Priz AS-28 submarine had become entangled in. All six crew members survived, with just hours of air to spare, demonstrating the future need for a fast, highly mobile submarine rescue service like the NSRS.