A huge international submarine rescue exercise held every 3 years is currently underway.
More than 1000 personnel from nine countries take part in Exercise Dynamic Monarch in Turkey giving their Navy a chance for them to test the newest addition to their fleet, the Alemdar.
Techinical director William Orr spoke of the sheer scale of the exercise:
“Dynamic Monarch is the biggest submarine rescue exercise that's held across the world. This time around there's 9 different countries, 1000 personnel and 20 different military assets including submarines, rescue ships, diving teams, medical support and a submarine parachute assistance group.”
The dedication to submarine safety is understandable. In the year 2000, an explosion sank the Kursk, a Russian submarine.
Some of the crew had survived the initial explosion, but despite the relatively shallow waters, all hands were tragically lost.
The disaster changed things, and caused the international community shed the usual secrecy surrounding submarines. They started an open dialogue on how to save trapped submariners.
In 2005, another Russian submarine, the Priz AS-28 was stranded on the ocean bed after becoming tangled in fishing nets.
Five years on from the Kursk disaster, a British rescue system helped save the crew.
As well as new equipment, the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office, ISMERLO was formed. From that came a website that gives open access to the world's sub rescue experts and kit.
The NATO Submarine Rescue System is British, French and Norwegian owned.
It’s vehicle, NEMO, is just one of the assets working off the Turkish coast.
Launched from the commercial Scottish ship Northern River, NEMO can save submariners from more than 600 metres down.
Dynamic Monarch has been getting the attention of the world's press.
The exercise, held every 3 years, is launched this time from Aksaz naval base near Marmaris. Turkey, a growing player in the world of submarine rescue.
Submarine rescue isn't cheap, the systems cost tens of millions of pounds.
But it is a life insurance policy and a rare example of true international co-operation.
Cdr Ian Duncan said of the exercise:
“The submarine population in the world is growing; to operate a submarine safely requires a lot of skilled personnel, and the possibility of a submarine accident in the future is always there”.
Turkey's new ship is home to a radiology unit, an operation theatre as well as state of the art decompression chambers, ready to treat submariners rescued from a submarine in distress deep below the surface.
The Turkish Navy take submarine safety extremely seriously.
This ship is capable of nearly every phase of rescue, from locating the submarine down to 600 metres, to providing first response and intervention with divers.
This ship can host Turkish rescue systems, but flexibility is a key part of its design.
These Submarine Rescue Chambers use a technology dating back to the 1930's when they saved 33 American submariners from the USS Squalus.
In a real submarine emergency, rescuing the trapped submariners would be a multi-national effort, and that’s exactly why the international exercise Dynamic Monarch is so important.
Technical Director William Orr said:
“These excercises allow you to know who your neighbours are, and to create trust so that you can call them up at a moment’s notice.”
Turkey last hosted a submarine rescue exercise 17 years ago.
Since then much has changed, and they've become an important player in the world of submarine rescue, as well as a valuable Mediterranean ally.