Spanish Navy Holds ‘Cartago 2013’ Search & Rescue Exercise
Between the 21st and 25th of October, the Spanish Navy organized the exercise ‘Cartago 2013’ off the coast of Murcia, intended to implement national search and rescue procedures for submarines.
During these days several search and rescue drills were carried out simulating all required procedures to rescue a damaged submarine, deploying the necessary naval and maritime assets.
The Spanish Navy contributed with the following units: submarine ‘Galerna’, minehunter ‘Segura’, SAR ship ‘Neptuno’ and the offshore patrol vessel ‘Cazadora’. The Staff of the following Headquarters also participated in the exercise: General Staff (Madrid), the Fleet (Rota), Submarine Flotilla and Maritime Action Force (Cartagena). The Maritime Search and Rescue Society (SASEMAR) collaborated with the SAR ships ‘Clara Campoamor’ and ‘Salvamar Mimosa’, as well as a helicopter.
One of the main goals of the exercise ‘Cartago 2013’ was to enhance the coordination between Spanish Navy units and other civilian departments and agencies, should a real submarine emergency occur.
Loss of contact with the submarine
On Monday the 21st a medical evacuation drill of submarine personnel was carried out near the Algameca Naval Station. Fifteen crew members simulated different injuries and were evacuated. The purpose of the exercise was to improve training in medical issues (management, treatment, evacuation). The medical personnel embarked on the ‘Clara Campoamor’ and the ‘Neptuno’.
On the following day the submarine ‘Galerna’ simulated an accident off the coast of San Pedro del Pinatar. After receiving the alert, all SAR elements started the scheduled operating procedures.
In order to establish communication with the submarine, a Spanish Navy helicopter and a Special Naval Warfare team deployed to the site and started initial contacts. Once the situation was thoroughly assessed the Spanish Navy, in coordination with SASEMAR, dispatched the minehunter ‘Segura’, rescue ship ‘Neptuno’ and SAR ships ‘Clara Campoamor’ and ‘Salvamar Mimosa’.
Afterwards, two stages known as PODEX and VENTEX were executed with the submarine lying on the bottom of the sea. These stages relate to the transfer of the necessary materiel to the submarine and the ventilation of the submarine atmosphere from the surface.
Rescue of the crew and refloating of the submarine
On Friday 25th of October, five crew members were rescued through the fore floodgate. This maneuver was carried out by special divers, medical personnel and hyperbaric chambers. An ICU was also deployed.
Then, a team of divers from the ‘Neptuno’ connected air pumps into the ballast tanks to expel the ballast from the tanks. The blown air helped surface the submarine from a depth of 12 meters. With this operation the exercise ‘Cartago 2013’ concluded.
Press Release,October 30, 2013; Image: Spanish Navy