Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle Remora

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Name: Remora
Namesake: Remora
Builder: OceanWorks International, North Vancouver, British Columbia
In service: 1995–2006
General characteristics
Type: Submarine rescue vehicle
Displacement: 16.5 tonnes (18.2 tons)
Test depth: Over 500 metres (1,600 ft)
Capacity: 6 passengers
Crew: 1 onboard operator, 12 personnel on surface
Time to activate: 36 hours to transport + 25 hours to fit and deploy

Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle Remora (ASRV Remora) was a submarine rescue vehicle used by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) between 1995 and 2006. The name comes from the remora, a small fish that can attach itself to larger marine life, and has the backronym "Really Excellent Method of Rescuing Aussies".[1][2]

Remora was constructed by OceanWorks International of North Vancouver, British Columbia for the RAN, based on a diving bell.[1] The 16.5-tonne (18.2-ton) vehicle was designed to mate with a submarine's escape tower, and could do this even if the submarine had rolled up to 60 degrees from vertical.[1][2] The vehicle can operate at depths over 500 metres (1,600 ft) and in currents of up to 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph), and was intended for use below 180 metres (590 ft); the maximum safe depth for Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment.[1][3] The submersible carried seven people: an onboard operator and six passengers.[1] Those aboard Remora were kept under about five bars of pressure, and rescued submariners exited into one of two 36-man recompression chambers carried aboard the rescue ship.[1]

Remora could be controlled from a containerised facility aboard the rescue ship, with power, control, and sensors fed through an armoured umbilical cable.[4][5] Twelve personnel make up the surface control complement, with this number supplemented by diving medicine specialists and divers.[5] The entire setup (Remora, control centre, and recompression chambers) could be transported by road or sea, or loaded into C-130 Hercules aircraft.[4][3] Remora could be delivered to anywhere in Australia within 36 hours, and installed on a suitable vessel in another 25 hours.[3] The Defence Maritime Services tender Seahorse Spirit was designated the main tender for Remora, although any vessel with sufficient space to carry and deploy the equipment (300-square-metre (3,200 sq ft) of deck space, with 8 metres (26 ft) minimum width) could be used.[6][5]

In December 2006, the umbilical cable parted during an exercise off Perth, trapping two men at a depth of 140 metres (460 ft) for 12 hours.[2] The men were rescued, but Remora was not recovered until April 2007.[2] The submersible was sent back to OceanWorks for repairs.[2] Although repairs were completed, Remora did not reenter service as the Det Norske Veritas classification society refused to certify the submersible; the launch and recovery equipment did not meet updated safety standards.[2] As of the end of 2008, Remora was in storage at Henderson, Western Australia.[2] To cover the capability loss, the Department of Defence arranged for the British LR5 submersible to be flown to Australia if submarine rescue was required.[2] In June 2009, LR5 was relocated to Australia on lease.[7]

Remora was the basis for the United States Navy's Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Davidson & Allibone, Beneath Southern Seas, p. 166
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Stewart, Rescue system for submarines a failure
  3. ^ a b c Royal Australian Navy, Submarine Rescue Vehicles
  4. ^ a b Davidson & Allibone, Beneath Southern Seas, p. 167
  5. ^ a b c InDepth Project Management, Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle (ASRV) Remora Fact Sheet
  6. ^ Wertheim (ed.), The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, p. 19
  7. ^ Remora replacement arrives, in Australian Defence Magazine
  8. ^ Wertheim (ed.), The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, p. 973


  • Davidson, Jon; Allibone, Tom (2005). Beneath Southern Seas. Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 1-920694-62-5. OCLC 69242056.
  • Wertheim, Eric, ed. (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems (15th ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-955-2. OCLC 140283156.
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