Practicing Evacuation from a Submarine

Photo by: David Greenwald

Practicing Evacuation from a Submarine

Photo by: David Greenwald

Practicing Evacuation from a Submarine

Photo by: David Greenwald

Naval rescue workshop held recently by the CH-53 squadrons and SAR Unit 669, included a special scenario: rescuing wounded out of a submarine deck. “A relevant and important scenario to practice”

David Greenwald

Rescuing far out at sea: the Airborne Search & Rescue Unit 669 and IAF’s Ch-53 Helicopter Squadrons, simulated wounded evacuation at the Mediterranean Sea earlier this week. The training exercise simulated casualties in Israeli Navy submarine and other Navy vessels as well as floating casualties in open sea.

“We simulated many possible scenarios at sea: rescuing pilots who evacuated their jets above water, as the sea is the preferable space for a pilot to be ejected over. We also simulated an incident in which a sailor is injured during his activity on a Navy vessel”, explained Lt. Col. Gadi, Commander of the CH-53 “Nocturnal Birds” Helicopter Squadron. “It could have just as well been a civilian on his yacht. We’ve got a number of such evictions every year”.

A training exercise that involves rescuing from a submarine is not routinely conducted. As part of the current workshop, the 669 SAR operators descended to the deck of INS “Tkuma”, which rose above sea level for the occasion and evacuated a simulated wounded onto the Ch-53 helicopter, using hoisting wire.

“The relatively small and uneven surface of the submarine deck is challenging to work on”, said Major A, 669 Training School Commander, who descended himself from the helicopter to the submarine. “The exercise training is a joint initiative of the submarine division, Ch-53 Squadrons and Unit 669, because we all understand just how relevant and complex this scenario is”.

The rescue is just as difficult for the team on the helicopter as it is for the team in the water: the pilots have to hover in accordance with the cruise speed of the submarine while the airborne mechanics lowers the rescue team to the vessel and lift them back up.

“The number of IDF’s submarines has increased and they are used for much operational activity, so a submarine rescue scenario is definitely a relevant and important scenario to practice”, declared Lt. Col. Gadi, who piloted the Ch-53 helicopter. “It is also important for the submarine crew: knowing they won’t be left alone in case of an unexpected incident inspires them with much confidence”.

Different Conditions Every Time
Following the special submarine rescue, the helicopter pilots continued to practice rescuing from a Navy patrol boat. The pilots once again hovered above the vessel when the airborne mechanics lifted the simulated wounded onto the helicopter.

At dusk and also in complete darkness, the 669 team members jumped into the sea and rescued additional simulated floating wounded.
“Rescuing at sea is always challenging. The conditions are complex and the combat soldiers undergo several weeks of preparations in the sea and in pools prior to the training exercise”, explained Major A.

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