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ARS-50 Safeguard

The Navy has responsibility for salvaging US government owned ships and, when it is in the best interests of the United States, privately owned vessels as well. Rescue and salvage ships save battle damaged combat ships from further damage and tow them to safety. Rescue, salvage and towing ships provide rapid fire fighting, pumping, battle damage repair and rescue towing to warships in combat and tow them to repair ships or bases in safe areas.

To assist the Navy in recapitalizing its fleet by leveraging our ship operations core competencies, higher operational tempo, and reduced manning, MSC has proffered proposals to the Chief of Naval Operations and the fleet to transfer ship operations of command ships, salvage ships, and submarine tenders to MSC. Since MSC already operates the ocean-going fleet tugs, which often work in tandem with salvage ships, like USS Grapple, the salvage mission would be a natural transition to MSC.

The newest of these, the Safeguard ARS-50 class, were commissioned in 1984 and 1985. These new Rescue and Salvage Class of vessels were constructed for the U.S. Navy, to both replace an aging class of vessels, and upgrade the mission-essential equipment and systems found on board vessels of this type.

For rescue missions, the ship is equipped with fire monitors forward and amidships that can deliver both fire fighting foam or seawater. The salvage holds of the ship are outfitted with portable equipment to effect assistance to other vessels in dewatering, patching, supplying electrical power, and other essential services required to return a disabled ship to an operating condition. Additionally, they have the finest diver life-support air system in the Fleet.

SAFEGUARD is capable if exerting a pull of nearly 200 tons on a stranded ship using its tow wires, propulsion engines and two legs beach gear. Where necessary, it can rig up to six legs of beach gear on board the stranded ship and exert a retracting force of nearly 400 tons from the stranded ship itself. When the main engines are used in a retraction operation, fine-controlled maneuverability is provided by controllable pitch propellers and bow thruster. SAFEGUARD is equipped with a boom for plumbing the hold of a stranded ship in order to offload cargo for the purpose of lightening the ship prior to a debeaching pull.

For rescue missions, the ship is equipped with four fire monitors forward and amidships that can deliver both fire fighting foam or saltwater. The salvage holds of the ship are outfitted with portable equipment to effect assistance to other vessels in dewatering, patching, supplying electrical power and other essential services require to return a disabled ship to an operating condition. Additionally, Safeguard has the finest diver life support air system in the fleet.

The rugged construction of this steel-hulled vessel, combined with her speed and endurance, make the Safeguard well suited for the rescue and salvage operations of Naval and commercial shipping throughout the world. The versatility of this class of ship adds immeasurably to the capabilities of the U.S. Navy with the regards to rendering assistance to those in peril on the high seas.

SAFEGUARD is equipped with 7.5 ton capacity kingpost/boom forward and a 40 ton kingpost/vanged boom arrangement boom arrangement aft. The ship can also perform 150 ton and 300 ton dynamic lifts over bow or stern rollers to recover objects off the sea floor. Diver support in rigging a lift is available to a depth of 190 feet on air and 300 feet on mixed gas.

In the event of an at sea rescue or a stranded ship that is unable to proceed under its own power, SAFEGUARD is equipped with a automatic double drum and ancillary towing gear. The design of the SAFEGUARDS hull and deckhouse is predicated on providing the best practicable characteristics when towing a disabled ship. The design and power of SAFEGUARD is sufficient to tow a Nimitz class aircraft carrier at a speed of 3-5 knots.

Even under the calmest of ocean conditions, heavy-lifting operations from the depths are hazardous undertakings. These operations require extremely stable vessel platforms, specialized equipment and highly trained personnel. The ships' heavy lifting system is comprised of both bow and stern rollers, deck machinery and tackle. The rollers provide a low-friction fairlead for the lift wires or chains. The deck machinery and tackle supply the required hauling force of up to 150 tons (75 tons to each lift wire). The two main bow rollers, or the two stern rollers, each carrying one-half of the load, are used to accomplish lifts of up to 150 tons. Bow and stern rollers can be used simultaneously to make a dynamic lift of up to 300 tons.

SAFEGUARD is capable if exerting a pull of nearly 200 tons on a stranded ship using its tow wires, propulsion engines and two legs beach gear. Where necessary, it can rig up to six legs of beach gear on board the stranded ship and exert a retracting force of nearly 400 tons from the stranded ship itself. When the main engines are used in a retraction operation, fine-controlled maneuverability is provided by controllable pitch propellers and bow thruster. SAFEGUARD is equipped with a boom for plumbing the hold of a stranded ship in order to offload cargo for the purpose of lightening the ship prior to a debeaching pull.

Hull damage will often result from a stranding incident. SAFEGUARD is equipped with a diving system which provides the capability of examining the underwater hull and effecting temporary hull repairs. The goal is to render the freed ship seaworthy so that it may proceed safely to a location where permanent repairs can be effected. Transportable cutting and welding equipment, power sources, and dewatering gear are available when required for use on the stranded or otherwise damaged ship.

Salvage and rescue operations often require careful preparation by highly skilled crewmen working underwater for long periods of time. Both the Grasp and Grapple are outfitted to support a wide range of advanced diving procedures. For shallow underwater inspections, searches, and other tasks that require mobility, divers can be outfitted with standard scuba gear from the vessels' well equipped dive lockers. For more complex underwater operations, MK12 and MK1 air-diving systems are used. These ships have the finest diver life-support air system in the fleet.

The MK 12 and MK 1 air diving systems enable Grasp and Grapple divers to make tethered descents to depths of 190 ft. While tethered diving provides less mobility than scuba, individuals can remain in contact with the diving control station on the vessel using special communications equipment in their helmets. Divers engaging in tethered diving procedures typically descend to depth on a diving stage lowered by one of the two diving davits. After completing their work, divers ascend on the diving platforms, stopping at predetermined depths so that they can "decompress" and avoid decompression sickness, better known as, "the bends".

In the event that a diver succumbs to decompression sickness while acsending from depth, or for routine surface decompression, divers can be treated in the ships' recompression chambers. These are specially designed to connect to a portable recompression chamber at their entry doors. Portable recompression chambers are used to transport divers to special medical facilities on shore in the event that their injuries are too severe to be treated on board.

When a stranded ship cannot be retracted or the damage is so extensive it prevents SAFEGUARD from rendering it seaworthy, it may be necessary to provide a medical treatment room and a small ward, where casualties can be treated and cared for as well as space that can be converted for extra berthing of the crew of the casualty ship. The ARS-50 is equipped with two elevated fire monitors, one at either end of the superstructure that can provide up to 4000 gpm of either seawater or Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) to fight fires on other ships or accessible piers. An addition monitor is located on the Bow.

In their 21,000-cubic ft salvage holds, the ships carry transportable cutting and welding equipment, hydraulic and electric power sources, dewatering gear, salvage and machine shops, and repair materials to make temporary hull repairs on stranded or otherwise damaged ships. The ships also have a 7.5-ton capacity forward boom, and a 40-ton capacity aft boom, to offload disabled vessels, and handle heavy equipment during salvage operations. The Grasp and Grapple are capable of providing practically every essential service required to return a disabled ship to operating condition.

The ships have two solid cargo transfer stations, and two fuel receiving stations. The solid cargo transfer stations can receive a Standard Tensioned Replenishment Alongside Method (STREAM), using a Standard Underway Replenishment Fixture (SURF), housefall, and highline rigs. The GRASP can send material or personnel using a manila or synthetic highline. Fueling at sea is conducted using both alongside- and stern-refueling methods. Connections are located at Frame 58 on the port and starboard sides of 01 Level. Vertical replenishment can be conducted in the marked zone on the fantail. The ship is capable of hover-only operations with H-1, H-2, H-3 and CH-46 type helicopters.



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