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DSRVs and SRCs spell "rescue" for stranded submariners By JO1 Joseph Gunder, Navy Wire Service WASHINGTON (NWS) -- It's a submariner's worst nightmare. Being stuck on the bottom of the ocean in a dark, cold, damp and powerless submarine with air running out. The U.S. Navy has tools at their disposal to ensure that Sailors have a means of escape from what might otherwise be their metal coffin. The Navy's Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) at NAS North Island in San Diego provides the operational expertise to conduct a variety of missions with its deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRVs), Submarine Rescue Chambers (SRCs), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and support ships. Recently, a Russian "Oscar-class" submarine became stranded at the bottom of the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway, trapping its crew of more than 100. Although the Russian navy has its own rescue system, the U.S. Navy has a DSRV and SRC on stand-by, just in case. The two DSRVs, also known by their names Avalon and Mystic, are sort of "mini-subs" that can be flown anywhere in the world on short notice. They can conduct rescue operations as deep as 2,000 feet. Typically, when the U.S. Navy responds to an accident site, the DSRV, its crew and specialized support gear from the Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) are transported via a U.S. Air Force C-5 "Galaxy" cargo plane at NAS North Island and flown to the nearest capable airport. Once it arrives, the DSRV is transported via its land transport vehicle and taken to the staging port for rendezvous with a specially equipped "mother submarine." "This is what's called the `mother-sub' or `mosub' concept," explained Cmdr. Bill Orr, action officer for the Deep Submergence branch of the Submarine Warfare Division (N873). "We would mount the DSRV on the mother-sub. After transiting together to the rescue site, the DSRV would detach and transit over to the disabled submarine, recover up to 24 personnel, transit back to the mother sub, mate and transfer the personnel. The DSRV would then continue the rescue cycle until all survivors were recovered." The DSRV could also be bringing down emergency air, food, water, blankets, lithium hydroxide for the air scrubbers, or anything else needed to help aid those remaining on the stricken sub until all the personnel can be recovered. The other method for a rescue of a stranded sub would be the use of the Submarine Rescue Chamber, or SRC. This chamber would be lowered from a vessel on the surface and be able to take about six personnel at a time. It would be hauled into place over the disabled sub's hatch by means of a winch and a down haul cable. But first, a remotely operated vehicle or a diver must attach the cable to the center of the sub's hatch for the SRC to find its mark. -USN-