Dry deck shelter

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USS Dallas departs Souda Bay harbor with dry deck shelter attached in 2004.

A dry deck shelter (DDS) is a removable module that can be attached to a submarine to allow divers easy exit and entrance while the boat is submerged. The host submarine must be specially modified to accommodate the DDS, with the appropriate mating hatch configuration, electrical connections, and piping for ventilation,[1] divers' air, and draining water.

Active and future DDS-capable submarine[edit]

This list includes only active or future DDS-capable submarines.

A pair of rigid-hulled inflatable boats operate alongside USS Archerfish during a 1993 exercise. Archerfish has a dry deck shelter attached to its deck.

Royal Navy[edit]


United States Navy[edit]

The United States Navy's DDSs are 11.6 meters (38 feet) long by 2.7 meters (9 feet) high and wide, add about 30 tons to its host submarine's submerged displacement, can be transported by trucks or C-5 Galaxy aircraft, and require one to three days to install and test. They have three HY-80 steel sections within the outer glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) fairing: a spherical hyperbaric chamber at the forward end to treat injured divers; a smaller spherical transfer trunk;[3] and a cylindrical hangar with elliptical ends. The hangar can support a swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV), four Navy SEALs to man the SDV, and a crew of Navy Divers to operate the DDS and launch the SDV; or 20 SEALs with four Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC). The SDV release team consists of 2 officers, 2 enlisted technicians, and 18 divers.[4]

The two SEAL delivery vehicle teams report to Naval Special Warfare Group 3.[5]

There are currently six portable dry deck shelters in use by the USN, the first one built by Electric Boat. The first, designated DDS-01S ("S" for starboard opening outer door), was completed in 1982. The remaining five, DDS-02P ("P" for port opening), -03P, -04S, -05S, and -06P, were built between 1987 and 1991 and were built by Newport News Shipbuilding.[6] The shelters are maintained by a combined effort of Navy divers stationed on the teams and workers of the maintenance company Oceaneering International.[7][8] They have expected useful lives of about 40 years each.[9]


Note: A total of 30 Virginia-class submarines are planned.[11]

Los Angeles-class:[12]



Note: The Ohio-class SSGNs are capable of supporting dual dry deck shelters.[14]


  1. ^ Lillo, RS; Porter, WR; Caldwell, JM (2001). "Development of Oxygen Monitoring Capability for the Existing Hyperbaric Carbon Dioxide Analyzer Used in Dry Deck Shelter Operations". US Navy Experimental Diving Unit Technical Report. NEDU-TR-01-01. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  2. ^ "Dr Lee Willett, The ''Astute''-Class Submarine, Capabilities and Challenges, RUSI (2004)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Butler, Jr FK, Smith DJ (eds). (1997). "Tactical Management of Diving Casualties in Special Operations. 46th Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Workshop.". Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society Workshop. UHMS Publication Number USSOCOM 3-93. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  4. ^ "Dry Deck Shelter". GlobalSecurity.org. 
  5. ^ Naval Special Warfare Command. "HQ and Components". 
  6. ^ "Los Angeles-class Attack Submarine". U.S. Naval Institute. 
  7. ^ staff (2006-09-05). "Oceaneering Announces Dry Deck Shelter Planning Yard and Maintenance Contract". Oceaneering International. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  8. ^ staff (2013-07-19). "Oceaneering to provide maintenance services for dry-deck shelter". strategicdefenceintelligence.com. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  9. ^ Steve Southard. "Dry Deck Shelters—Deploying Special Operations Forces from Submarines". 
  10. ^ "Dry Deck Shelters—Deploying Special Operations Forces from Submarines". February 1999. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "US Navy 21st Century - SSN Virginia Class". Jeffhead.com. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  12. ^ Polmar & Moore, (2003). pp. 263
  13. ^ "Seawolf-class nuclear-powered attack submarine". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "SSGN, A Transformational Force for the U.S. Navy". Retrieved 19 April 2014.