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Russian Navy is in front of the big changes in the rescue infrastructure
30.04.2007 13:43

For years this secondary segment of the Russian Navy has been neglected. Only after a number of accidents the government had to listen to the repeated demands from the naval command. Today the situation is noticeably changing for the better, according to the head of search & rescue department of the Russian Navy Rear Admiral Vasily Vorobev. (Abstracts from the interview to Krasnaya Zvezda)

As of today Russian Navy obtained and commissioned remotely controlled long-distance underwater devices "Tiger", Falcon, Obzor-150, Venom intended for fine tuned search of the underwater objects located on the bottom as well as for various other submarine works. In 2005 the mobile search complex "Kalmar" passed the state tests. In September, 2006 the Navy got an auto-air- transportable complex Panther Plus. Its tests successfully passed in the 40-th Research Institute of the MoD. This year it is planned to sea test complex in the Black Sea.

Earlier, in 2002 four complete sets Bar-norm survival suits Hard Suit-1200 were obtained. Each set includes two survival suits (for working and rescue shift), elevating devices and the submersed station. All sets were tested and commissioned. Today staff undergoes training. So far 26 experts were prepared. Keeping in mind the international experience of using survival suits when rescuing a submarine laying on the bottom there is enough hardware already available. As for the experts the quality of training is more important than the number of the experts. As of today training throughout the Navy has not been completed. First of all this is due to the stage-by-stage nature of training and certain brain drain. Now it is possible to state the readiness of our experts to work on the depths of up to 100 meters. Training of pilots for the works on the depths of over 300 meters demands not less than 2,5-3 years. This is to be followed by constant up keeping curriculums.

The hardware bought in 2001-2003 differs from the models obtained more recently. "Venom", Tiger, "Osmotr", "Obzor" were successfully commissioned by the Navy. The situation with more complicated complex "Panther" is different. First of all Russian navy got it only in 2006. Secondly, it is much more complicated in terms of design and operation. And, thirdly, "Panther", being a completely mobile complex, assumes permanent crew. It is to be formed. It will include 14 officers NCOs and sailors. It will take time to select the people. The training program will take 45 days more.

Unfortunately this year the government did not finance a regular curriculum with the instructors from the Canadian firm Ocean Word. They, actually, started to train Russian pilots. Today their knowledge and experience are necessary to train Russian heads of crews and instructors. First of these are experts of the 40-th Research Institute and 328-th rescue group. Today the main task of the Russian rescue service it to train own experts to use the technologies of Bar-norm survival suits.

Today there is no problem with the recruitment. Last year, for the first time, Naval Engineering Institute got two full classes of divers. It means soon there will be not 18-20 new specialists a year (as it was before), but 40-45 divers. Besides, there is a network of diving schools for NCOs. There are also contracted servicemen. Epron, the rescue ship of the Black Sea fleet has only contracted divers. In June the Navy plans the exercises in the Baltic Sea in presence of the Commander of the Navy of Admiral Vladimir Masorina. The rescue teams will show the process of rescuing a crew of the emergency submarine laying on the bottom.

Recently the emergency-rescue dept of the Russian Navy (UPASR) commissioned an independent deep-water device of the third generation "Rus" (S-37). The search and rescue complex -750 "Rus" was designed by the St.-Petersburg based KB "Malachite" and constructed by Admiralty shipyards. The complex was tested in the Baltic Sea in November, 16 - December, 1, 2005. The tests revealed serious hermetic drawbacks. After certain works the test proceeded in November and December, 2006. In particular, two times the complex went as deep as 3000m. If necessary "Rus" can dive down to 6.000 meters.

At the moment the project of re-equipping a civil ship "KIL-143" into a military rescue vessel has been suspended. Originally the 35 million Euro worth project was supposed to solve the problems with the shortage of rescue equipment in the Northern Fleet. Special plan was developed by a German shipbuilding firm in 2002-2003, but Russian government did not allocate necessary funds since. It means today Northern Fleet cannot use big depth divers. There was hope that by 2009 Russian manufacturers will construct new search and rescue vessel Igor Belousov. For some reasons the terms of delivering this ship were postponed till 2011. It is not excluded that terms will be once again changed.

UPASRs ships in the past years participated in literally all naval exercises of the surface ships and submarines. The period UPASRs ships stayed in the sea doubles the average figure for the combat ships. This is why 70 percent of the rescue ships and half of tugs have high level of depreciation. There are some problems with the timely financing and quality of the repair works. The analysis of the technical conditions of the UPASRs ship structure showed that 54 percent of the ships, 86 percent of the underwater devices are beyond their life time. 98,7 percent of the ships and underwater devices are operated on the basis of the prolonged life time / period between the repair. Before 2015 the Navy plans to build two more rescue ships of the new 21300 project after the head one Igor Belousov. Along with the construction of Igor Belousov it will be necessary to construct the underwater device of the new 18271 project. Its characteristics will surpass all existing rescue underwater devices of the Russian Navy. It will be possible to use it even rendering services to the countries of NATO. But it is necessary to understand that by that time existing "Rudnitsky", "Titov", "Sayan Mountains" will run out of their life time. So number wise the rescue fleet will remain the same. Optimal plans include two rescue ships for each fleet of the Navy.

News source: ShipbuildingRu
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