sub rescue

Hyperbaric Rescue to Become Naval and Commercial Best Practice

Long-standing naval and defence expert, James Fisher Defence (JFD) has suggested that the commercial sector could learn a thing or two from its hyperbaric rescue service.

The naval and marine industry have each kept sternly abreast of emerging technologies, practices and standards, fast-becoming exemplars of innovation. Despite having the connection of the sea, however, the two have remained relatively separate and, though the naval sector has adopted many of the regulatory frameworks of the commercial side, cross-pollination has not worked both ways. Tides look set to turn however.

In case where a vessel is damaged and has to be abandoned, personnel have to be rescued with the use of lifeboats. For operatives under the water, engaged in saturation diving, evacuation can prove difficult. To mitigate risk of injury, divers have to be removed from the water using a pressurised compartment. The container can take one of many forms and can be launched or floated into the sea. The process requires a great deal of planning and has to take into account the need for controlled decompression and safe relocation. While both commercial and naval sectors incorporate the technique, there is not currently a standardised practice of subsea evacuation.

Brian Redden, Director of Global Hyperbaric Rescue Services at JFD, recently commented on the lack of consistency in the sector, saying that the sector lacked credible, safe and timely SPHL recovery methods. The practice of saturation diving is split between technologies and has yet to decide on a model of best practice. It is currently made of a combination of self-propelled hyperbaric lifeboats (SPHL) or hyperbaric rescue centres (HRC). Guidance and regulation is also divided, leaving businesses at a loss as to how to manage health and safety while providing the most rapid evacuation.

In the absence of a dedicated best practice framework, the company suggested its davit-based launch and recovery system (LARS) is a tool from which both naval and commercial marine industries can benefit. An alternative to the A-frame currently used, JDF’s system has the capacity for side recovery, and has on board a two-point lift and adjustable cradles for up to 24-man SPHLs for direct offload. JFD’s davit LARS SPHL recovery method is currently the safest one around, Redden added. A vessel of opportunity is stationed within four hours of bases at any one time and its position is monitored via AIS. The company guarantees 32 hours to first rescue.

For JFD then, the message is one of collaboration. Sector-wide progress, the company insists, depends on businesses talking and co-operating with one another.

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