The second of two deep search and rescue vehicle (DSRV) destined for the Indian Navy’s fledgling submarine rescue capability will finish its build process in November 2018, ahead of an expected entry in service in March 2019.

Earlier this year the first submersible undertook open ocean trials near Mumbai off the west coast of India, although the beginning of the monsoon season during this period will necessitate a repeat visit in September to conduct the next phases under improved conditions.

Initial trials and training had taken place in the waters off Fort William and Glasgow, before the submersible’s transfer to India.

The two platforms destine for India are third-generation iteration of JFD's submarine rescue capability.

According to JFD the third-generation vehicle marks a step change in submarine rescue capability with a focus on speeding up the rescue process through an improved logistics footprint. This improved response time is vital for undersea rescue situations, with stricken submarines generally considered to be able to support crews for around 72 hours at best.

The Indian program will see a submarine rescue capability operating from its west and east coasts.

Ralph Addison, one of the JFD pilots tasked with working with the Indian Navy personnel, described the ‘good cooperation’ between the two sites during the training process, which began in 2017 and is likely to run through to 2019. 

It is thought an option to extend further advice and training expertise exists beyond this time period, should it be required.

Of the capabilities the third-generation variant has over its predecessors Addison said it operates through purely electric thrusters, reducing operational noise levels, which is beneficial for communications during submarine rescue evolutions.

Ben Sharples, India DSRV project director at JFD, told Shephard during a visit to the JFD manufacturing site near Glasgow that with the growth in submarine acquisition by navies – such as that seen in Asia in recent years – these same services were now looking to obtain solutions in the event of an emergency.

‘The Indian Navy [will have] two systems, that is going some. Even the US Navy doesn’t have two rescue systems,’ he said.

Two DSAR-class submarine rescue vehicles had also previously been delivered to the navies of the Republic of Korea and Singapore. During the site visit, a delegation from an Asian nation potentially seeking a submarine rescue capability was given an extensive briefing by JFD officials.

However, with the market for the new build and purchase of such systems slow – just two ordered and built in the past 10 years – Sharples said that the ‘real value’ for JFD is in the maintenance and ensuring availability of existing platforms.

In November 2017 the Argentinian SSK ARA San Juan was lost with all hand in the South Atlantic, and despite a huge international rescue effort, the submarine and her crew were never found. 

In 2000, the Russian SSN Kursk sank in the Barents Sea after an explosion onboard, with Russia rebuffing initial offers of rescue from Western nations.