05 August 2009

Pressurised escape training for Aussie submariners to be reinstated

[UPDATED]

Yesterday Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science Greg Combet (ALP - Member for Charlton, NSW) announced that pressurised escape training for submariners in the Royal Australian Navy will be reinstated. This comes as part of the Navy's submarine sustainability strategy which I have previously discussed here.

The training is to be recommenced at the Submarine Escape Training Facility, or SETF, at HMAS Stirling which is located on Garden Island, in the state of Western Australia. "The SEFT simulates the escape from a Collins Class submarine including the effects of water pressure. Provision of pressurised submarine escape training is a critical component in the submariner training continuum" said Combet in a press release.

Ron Hilton, a spokesman for Combet, told me today in a telephone interview that the previous contract for escape training had expired in June 2008. Earlier this year interim training for RAN submariners was undertaken in Quebec, Canada to meet RAN requirements. The training program is now expected to be recommenced in Australia later this year.

According to Hilton no sailor in the RAN would have been permitted to go underway unless they had the escape training first. Additionally, sailors who were initially trained must undergo a re-certification every three years. Those sailors would not have been permitted to return to sea until they had the escape re-training. Whilst there was a lapse in renewing the escape training contract sailors were never put at any safety risk because RAN regulations required escape training prior to any submariner being assigned sea duty.

Costs for the training program for two years is $4.32 million (AUD). For further information the ADF press release can be found here.

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