Chile to host seventh submarine rescue drill with US Navy

The Chilean Navy is set to host its US counterparts for the seventh edition of the bilateral submarine rescue exercise Chilemar VII.

Starting on October 16, the exercise will take place off the coast of Talcauhano, Chile, and will be aimed at improving interoperability between the US submarine rescue system and Chilean submarines.

Chilean submarine CS O’Higgins and URC will practice a rescue scenario which demonstrates URC’s submarine rescue capabilities by mobilizing and employing the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and the submarine rescue chamber (SRC).

The SRC, a McCann rescue chamber designed prior to World War II and still used today, will be used to mate with O’Higgins for a transfer of personnel from the simulated distressed submarine to the rescue vessel.

The SRC can rescue up to six persons at a time and reach a bottomed submarine up to a max depth of 850 feet. The SRC is operated by two crewmembers and is lowered using a tethered cable from the ship to the submarine. Once the chamber reaches the submarine, it seals over the submarine’s hatch allowing sailors to safely transfer to the rescue chamber.

“Submarine rescue operations involve very challenging procedures, and they require consistent training to maintain proficiency,” said Cmdr. John Doney, deputy commander, Submarine Squadron 11. “Our ability to cooperate with our partner nations during such a technical evolution will ensure that, in the unlikely event of an actual submarine emergency, we will be operationally prepared.”

URC is the only submarine rescue command for the United States Navy with the capability to provide submarine rescue within 96 hours to Time To First Rescue (TTFR).