Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Bold Monarch 2011 Kicks Off in Spain

Members of the Deep Submergence Unit aboard the Military Sealift Command fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171) prepare to submerge a submarine rescue chamber during exercise CHILEMAR II. The exercise between the Chilean and U.S. Navy forces simulates submarine rescue operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Spencer Mickler/Released)
By MCC(SW/AW) Katt Whittenberger, Expeditionary Combat Camera

CARTAGENA, Spain (NNS) -- Participants and observers from more than 25 countries departed May 30, for the NATO exercise Bold Monarch 2011, the world's largest submarine rescue exercise.

The 12-day exercise supports interoperability between submarines and submarine rescue units, and this is the first time a Russian submarine has participated in a NATO exercise.

"In Bold Monarch 2008, NATO and our partner nations demonstrated dramatic improvements in international cooperation and interoperability in this challenging field," said Capt. David Dittmer, deputy commander, Submarines North. "Our achievements included the first ever rescues between the Russian Federation Navy and NATO submarines, and the first transfer of personnel with the new U.S. and NATO rescue systems. In 2011's exercise, we will move even further in demonstrating our technical capabilities and coordination processes. We will include a Russian submarine in this exercise for the first time and practice complex, international command and control procedures in a realistic scenario. This is the graduate level of submarine rescue operations."

More than 2,000 personnel and 20 ships have gathered off the coast of Spain, bringing with them rescue forces equipped with a range of sophisticated debris clearance, diver assisted gear and submarine rescue systems (SRS). With more than 40 nations operating submarines, the compatibility between assets and standardization of procedures in submarine rescue is exceedingly important.

"In the unlikely event of an emergency, we can work with our allies to respond appropriately, and having a standardized script helps cut through the language barrier," said Cmdr. David Lemly, commander, Deep Submergence Unit. "Exercises like this gives us a way to interact with militaries we may not normally interact with since we're primarily a humanitarian unit."

Filling the U.S. role for the exercise is the Navy's Deep Submergence Unit (DSU), which runs the only U.S. submarine rescue systems. Monday the Pressurized Rescue Module (PRM) submerged and successfully linked up with the Turkish SSK Anafartalar. One of the goals for this dive was to verify the possibility of using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) as a tool to allow recovery of the PRM if there's an emergency while it is submerged. The Swedish ROV launched from the HSwMS Belos, and as a safety precaution, it approached the PRM after the PRM had fully sealed on the Turkish vessel, but before the hatch was opened between the two.

"This exercise is great training for my operators and clearly demonstrates our ability to work with other subs to do our mission." said Lemly.

Bold Monarch 2011 will culminate with a 48-hour scenario involving the rescue of more than 150 personnel from multiple ships. Aircraft from Italy will deliver divers from the Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom via parachutes, to provide first response. The medical professionals will respond to multiple mass casualty scenarios. Rescue systems from multiple countries will recover trapped Sailors.