In early March it was declared that the world leading NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) has now achieved full operating capability. This is great news and the culmination of a 20 year project in which Northumberland-based IHC Engineering Business (IHC EB) has played a pivotal role with the design and build of the Portable Launch and Recovery System (PLARS).
NSRS is the result of 3 partner nations (UK, France and Norway) successfully collaborating to develop and operate a world class submarine rescue system. It is unique in its ability to be transported by air and mobilised onto a wide range of vessels, and is the only system that can transfer personnel under pressure from a crippled submarine to a decompression and treatment facility.
In January 2007 IHC EB delivered the PLARS for NSRS, which forms a vital part of this high specification emergency response system. The system was designed, manufactured, assembled and tested in 29 months at IHC EB facilities in the North East of England.
Since its delivery, the system has been mobilised on a number of vessels, both commercial charters and those from the partner organisations, such as the Norwegian Coastguard. The regular exercises have proven the ability to deploy by air and mobilise in less than the specified 18 hours. They have also provided vital opportunities to practice and train the mobilisation teams and system operators, whilst working up effective operating practices for the real event. The Submarine Rescue Vehicle (SRV), manufactured by Perry Slingsby Systems Ltd, has been launched and recovered from the sea many times, with dives to mate with underwater practice targets and a number of actual submarines. Throughout this period IHC EB has been an active member of the operational team, providing both technical and on site support.
Achieving Full Operational Capability is the result of a concerted effort by the UK, French and Norwegian Navies, industry and a dedicated NSRS team. IHC EB received the initial formal enquiry from Rolls Royce back in 2003 and is proud that its efforts, engineering expertise and innovation over the intervening years have contributed to a system that is at the forefront of worldwide submarine rescue.
IHC EB is already looking at providing similar technology to other Navies in the future.