The Russian Navy is setting up a rapid response, air transportable rescue system which can be rushed to the assistance of stricken submariners.
The underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that forms the main part of this package will come from British company Seaeye Marine who has been awarded the contract to supply its 0.5 tonne, state-of-the-art Panther Plus electric powered work class ROV system.
The need for a rapid response system follows lessons learnt from the recent rescue of the Pritz AS-2S mini submarine and her seven man crew by a Royal Navy ROV that was air lifted from the UK to the Russian Far East in August last year.
Seaeye’s Panther Plus will be fitted with sonar and an acoustic tracking system to assist locate and position a distressed submarine as well as a full suite of colour and low light black and white video cameras to provide rescue planners with underwater pictures of the submarine on the seabed.
The ROV will also be fitted with two manipulators, an 8 inch rotary disc cutter and a hydraulic guillotine cutter with a capacity to cut up to 38 mm wire rope and assist with debris clearance. This ROV, which also has the capability of inserting emergency life support stores into a distressed submarine, is able to connect hoses and lines to a submarine’s salvage connections to help keep the crew alive while waiting for their rescue.
The complete package includes a Seaeye tether management system (TMS) which acts as a subsea garage for the ROV out of which it is flown when it reaches the operational depth. A winch and ‘A’ frame that has been specially modified for air transport will be provided to launch and recover the Panther Plus in its TMS.
Unlike the Royal Navy’s heavy hydraulically powered ROV, the Russians have opted for the significantly lighter but equally capable modern option of an ROV with brushless DC electric thrusters for which Seaeye are the specialists. This will provide the simple maintenance and repair routines of a plug-and-play modular system as well as the ability to operate from the decks of a wider variety of smaller vessels-of-opportunity in conditions of up to sea state 6.
Seaeye’s Moscow based Russian partners for this contract, Tetis Pro, will integrate the Panther Plus control system and other topside equipment into custom designed containers as well as provide the transportation package, local logistic support and training for the whole system.
Seaeye first worked with Tetis and the Russian Navy following the Kursk submarine disaster with the delivery of 7 smaller inspection / observation class Tiger ROVs that are currently operational with each of the Russian fleets.
It was a video survey of the trapped submarine by one of these Seaeye Tigers that proved critical in the rescue planning for the Pritz and it was the excellent reliability and performance of these systems that was to swing the decision to purchase an electric powered work class ROV in Seaeye’s favour. The Panther Plus will be delivered to Russia in August this year.
This Panther Plus will be the 21st to be delivered by the company and joins systems in production for Rovtech in Scotland and RUETC in China.