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USS Michigan Undergoes Submarine Escape Training

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070521-15
Release Date: 5/21/2007 4:25:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Eric J. Rowley Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from the USS Michigan (SSGN 727) underwent training on the MK-10 Submarine Escape and Immersion Equipment (SEIE) at the Naval Base Kitsap Bangor Fitness and Aquatic Center on May 17.

The training showed Sailors safe procedures on escaping from a submarine in distress at depths reaching 600 feet.

“We are doing this training because our submarine just received the MK-10 SEIE to replace our old suits,” said Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (SS) Nicholas Sharp, Michigan electrician leading petty officer. “I think these suits are a lot better than the ones we had before because they keep you dry and out of the water, which will increase survivability.”

The training covered the physics and medicine involved with submarine escape, as well as parts and components of the MK-10 SEIE and raft.

The MK-10 SEIE is designed to enable a free ascent from a distressed submarine and provide protection for submariners reaching the surface. It is comprised of a submarine escape and immersion suit, an inner thermal liner, and a gas inflated single seat life raft, which is all contained in an outer protective stowage compartment.

“This equipment is the last survivability defense,” said Navy Diver 1st Class (DSW/SW) Jason Tangalin, instructor at the Center for Diving and Explosives Ordinance Disposal Detachment Pacific.

Tangalin described the procedures a diver is expected to follow if the need to escape arises.

“The first thing you do if you have to escape using this equipment is put on the suit and go into the rescue chamber on the submarine. Once you’re in the chamber, you signal you are ready by tapping on the inside of the chamber with a ball-peen hammer. Then the chamber is flooded which takes about 90 seconds at 600 feet. When the pressure in the chamber is equal to the water on the outside, the outer door to the chamber opens and you shoot to the surface, because of the buoyancy of the suit," said Tangalin.

The assembly was tested from 130 feet deep by six U.S. Navy divers and one diver from the Royal Navy in December. The divers left the hull of the USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) wearing the suits and ascended to the surface with no complications. It was also successfully tested from a depth of 600 feet by the Royal Australian Navy.

The MK-10 SEIE is the last resort to use in an escape situation. The other options for submarine escape are a deep submergence recovery vehicle (DSRV) or a submarine rescue chamber (SRC).

“I can’t swim and I’m not comfortable in the water, but this system is easy to use,” said Sonar Technician Submarine (SS) 1st Class Stanley Lowe, Michigan sonar technician. “It felt good to prove that the equipment does work. This training helps you realize this equipment can save your life.”

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