By Navy Lt. Rob Tiffin, Submarine Force Pacific — (DoD News) — Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii — October 2, 2017.
A component of Submarine Force Pacific, URC is the Navy's only submarine rescue-capable command and is always on call and ready to deploy around the world in the event of a submarine emergency.
Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S. took part in the NATO-sponsored exercise, which focused on submarine escape and rescue operations.
Turkey hosted this year's exercise, the 10th of a seriesdesigned to demonstrate multinational submarine rescue cooperation and to share submarine escape and rescue-related knowledge among worldwide partners, officials said. The exercise involved a wide array of equipment and up to 1,000 military and civilian personnel.
Three submarines, four submarine rescue ships, five surface ships, four aircraft, three medical teams and a submarine parachute assistance group participated.
Practicing Rescue Operations for Distressed Submarines
URC completed six submarine rescue chamber dives with five open-hatch matings between two Spanish and Turkish submarines positioned in distressed situations and depth scenarios.
The training also included a coordinated mass evacuation exercise that featured a U.S. submarine rescue chambers flyaway system and a tri-nation NATO submarine rescue system designed to aid personnel and distressed submarines. The NATO Submarine Rescue System mini-submarine Nemo, which participated in the exercise, can dive to depths of more than 1,900 feet and connect to the escape hatch on a distressed submarine to rescue sailors.
The exercise also practiced complex medical operations at sea. Representatives from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Poland, Spain and Sweden were invited to observe the exercise.
"With nearly 40 participating and observer nations, this exercise demonstrated and advanced relationships among our undersea warfare and submarine rescue partner nations," said Navy Capt. Chris Cavanaugh, commander of Submarine Squadron 11. "It also enhanced our own readiness to execute a rescue, should that day come."
URC was originally named Submarine Rescue Unit in the 1960s. It was renamed to Deep Submergence Unit in 1989, and in 2008 renamed to present-day Undersea Rescue Command. URC was recently recognized with the battle effectiveness award for sustained superior performance in an operational environment.