Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment
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Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment (SEIE) MK-10, also known as Submarine Escape and Immersion Equipment is whole-body suit and one-man life raft, designed by British company RFD Beaufort Limited, that allows submariners to escape from a sunken submarine. The suit provides protection against hypothermia and is rapidly replacing the Steinke hood rescue device. The suit allows survivors to escape a disabled submarine at depths down to 600 feet (183 m), at a rate of eight or more men per hour.
RFD Beaufort has pioneered the development of Submarine Escape Technology from the 1950s and has set the global standard for submarine escape. The latest generation RFD Beaufort SEIE MK11 enables free ascent from a stricken submarine and provides extensive protection for the submariner on reaching the surface until rescued. Since 1994 over 25,000 SEIE suits have been supplied to over 20 navies.
A typical assembly comprises a submarine escape and immersion suit, an inner thermal liner, and a gas-inflated single-seat life raft, all contained in an outer protective stowage compartment.
The suit not only keeps the escapee dry and protected from cold shock during escape, but also acts as a thermally efficient immersion suit on reaching the surface. Full protection is therefore provided while deploying and boarding the life raft. The suit provides sufficient lifting force to take the escapee from the submarine to the surface at a safe speed of approximately two to three meters per second.
The SEIE Mk-10 has been used in Royal Navy Submarines for a number of years.
The SEIE MK-10 is scheduled to replace all Steinke hoods aboard U.S. Navy submarines. The reconfiguration of escape trunks and training of the crews are requirements prior to installing the new system and several submarines have already installed the new system.
The Steinke hood was designed for the same circumstances, but did not include a full-body, thermally insulated suit or life raft. It was at best a last-ditch survival device but would not protect submariners from hypothermia or provide shelter or visibility at the surface, as the SEIE is designed to do.
In the event of an emergency, the SEIE might save submariners from death. However, the device is designed to be a last resort in the event of a submarine emergency at sea. The goal in the event of a submarine mishap is survival. The second is rescue with a submarine rescue vehicle. Lastly, if a rescue vehicle is not available or cannot connect to a stricken submarine, the crew can escape using the SEIE.
Optimally, a rescue vehicle is preferred as it allows crewmembers to survive with essentially no injuries since they are protected from the great amount of pressure at ocean depths. A rescue vehicle connects directly to the escape hatch of a submarine, eliminating the threat of exposure to cold water and extreme pressure.
In addition, the primary benefit of rescue before resorting to escape with the SEIE is that there would be resources available, including a recompression chamber, should it be needed by the rescued crew members.
However, unlike the Steinke Hood, the suit provides good protection from decompression sickness, hypothermia, and climatic exposure.
- Most of the information in this article was current in 2004. As of 2011[update], the number of submarines equipped with the SEIE is likely much higher.
- COMPSUBPAC press release, 2004.
- Weathersby, PK; Survanshi, SS; Parker, EC; Temple, DJ; Toner, CB (1999). "Estimated DCS Risks in Pressurized Submarine Rescue.". US Naval Medical Research Center Technical Report. NMRC 1999-04. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
- Latson, Gary W; Flynn, Edward T (1999). "Use of Emergency Evacuation Hyperbaric Stretcher (EEHS) in Submarine Escape and Rescue.". US Navy Experimental Diving Unit Technical Report. NEDU-TR-4-99. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
- Frank, SJ; Curley, MD; Ryder, SJ (1997). "A Biomedical Review Of The U.S. Navy Submarine Escape System: 1996". Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory Technical Report. NSMRL-1205. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
- "Pacific Submarine Force implements new Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment" (Press release). Commander, U.S. Navy Submarine Force Pacific (COMSUBPAC). October 15, 2004. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
- "Navy conducts first-ever escape exercise from nuclear sub" (Press release). Commander, U.S. Navy Submarine Force Pacific (COMSUBPAC). December 5, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
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