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BAM IS Underwater Intervention Vessel

BAM IS Underwater Intervention VesselThe Spanish government has approved the construction of the BAM IS (Buque de Acción Marítima de Intervención Subacuática) - Underwater Intervention Maritime Action Vessel) submarine rescue vessel. A contract will be signed in early 2021 with the local shipyard Navantia for a delivery expected in 2024. The information was first reported by Spanish daily newspaper El País.

After having invested 3,907 million euros in the new S-80 submarine, Spain lacked a ship capable of rescuing it. If a catastrophe such as the one that brought the Russian submersible Kursk (2000) or the Argentine Ara San Juan (2017) to the bottom of the sea, there are no adequate means to help its 40 crew members.

The only salvage vessel currently owned by the Spanish Navy is the Neptuno (A-20), a 45-year-old antique (it was launched as a tug in 1975) that has not yet been scrapped because it is needed for diving practices. Among other limitations, the ship cannot board a remote-controlled or rescue vehicle or remain fixed at sea (supplying oxygen, water or food to a submerged submersible below) except by attaching its four anchors. And that requires that there is no rough sea and that the seabed is not more than 50-80 meters deep. The maximum altitude at which the S-80 will operate in peacetime (in war it is a military secret) is 350 meters.

The Navy had been demanding the construction of the BAM IS ( Underwater Intervention Maritime Action Vessel ) for years and, finally, the Treasury gave its arm to twist last July and the Ministry of Defense has included it in its Budget project for next year : its cost amounts to 167 million euros (53.4 in 2021) for the platform; to which must be added another 25 for the purchase of equipment.

Unlike the Neptune, the new ship will be able to remain fixed at a point in the ocean (no matter how deep the seabed is), even if the sea is unfavorable, thanks to its dynamic positioning system, which maneuvers with its five thrusters and bow thrusters, all electric. It will have side-scan radar, two hyperbaric chambers, two underwater telephones, emergency supply systems to a sunken ship and a helipad to evacuate the wounded or to receive material. Its platform is based on that of the BAM, an ocean surveillance ship of which the Navy already has six units, but with a higher tonnage (5,000 tons compared to 2,670) and double decks, fore and aft, so that the equipment can operate for rescue.

The ship will be prepared to house the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NRSS), which includes a remotely operated submersible (SRDRS), which is attached to the escape hatch of the sunken submarine to evacuate the crew. The minisubmarine is at the disposal of the NATO countries, ready to be deployed in 72 hours in case of emergency.

The rescue of damaged submarines will be the most specific task of the future BAM IS, but not the only one. More frequent than submersible accidents is the sinking of fishing boats or the fall of planes and helicopters into the sea. The recovery of the corpses of the crew, for humanitarian reasons, and the remains of the aircraft, to investigate the causes of an accident, will be easier with equipment that can operate at great depth.

The Navy also attributes to it the mission of supporting underwater installations and tasks, the deactivation of underwater explosives or the removal or placement of obstacles; that is, from rescue operations to special naval warfare.

Displacement 5,000 ton.
Length 91 m / 295 feet
Maximum speed 15 knots
Complement 48 + 12
Diving equipment
  • Two ROVs (remotely operated vehicles)
  • Side scan sonar
  • System to ventilate a damaged submarine
  • Two hyperbaric chambers
  • Two underwater telephones
  • Hydroacoustic reference system
  • System to supply emergency containers ELSS
  • Compressors

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    Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:14 ZULU