The Kursk tragedy in 2000 identified a need for a Russian submarine rescue ship after 118 sailors and officers perished when the nuclear-powered, cruise-missile submarine sank in the Barents Sea.
As a response, the Russian Admiralty is constructing the Igor Belousov, a rescue ship, to be commissioned in 2014. The ship is to support a variety of rescue missions, which include the search, rescue, and salvage of submarines in distress.
Igor Belousov is to be equipped with a deep-sea diving system from Scottish diving equipment manufacturer Divex.
Divex has designed and is manufacturing and supplying the 450m-rated, deep-saturation diving system for Divex’s Russian partners, Tetis Pro Ltd., and ultimately for the Russian Admiralty. The system is to be installed in partnership between Divex and Moscowbased Tetis Pro.
The system is a unique design that accommodates 12 divers in saturation, allowing three-man bell excursions to 450m depth to gain access to a stricken submarine. It also accommodates up to 60 rescued submariners in the chamber complex, if any require decompression following rescue.
The system comprises four accommodation chambers arranged around a central “transfer-under-pressure” chamber, where divers put on their equipment and access the diving bell. These four chambers accommodate divers at their equivalent working pressure and provide decompression facilities for rescued submariners.
Divex, which has built 100 saturation diving systems since 1974, will split manufacturing between two locations.
The system decompression chambers, diving bell, and control system will be built in Perth, Western Australia, while the bell deployment, life support, and gas management systems will be manufactured and supplied from Divex headquarters in Aberdeen.
All environmental control systems (ECS) equipment will be manufactured at Divex’s facility in Cape Town, South Africa, making the system a truly international project.
Final equipment testing will be carried out at the factories. The system is due to be delivered by July, within the 12-month contract window for acceptance-testing readiness. OE