Submariners are now using a state-of-the-art escape and rescue complex to prepare them should disaster strike.
No Royal Navy submariner has been forced to abandon a boat in nearly 50 years. But the generations of crews have still been trained to leave a stricken submarine, rise to the surface and await rescue. The £34 million SubMarine Escape, Rescue, Abandonment and Survival (SMERAS) training complex in Faslane features
an indoor pool which simulates all manner of weather conditions – such as wind, rain and storms, day and night-time, and sea states – so that submariners can practise their escapes in a safe environment.
The complex, built by Kier Graham under the supervision of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, replaces the much-loved Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) which has dominated the Gosport skyline since the 1950s.
With the concentration of the submarine flotilla in Faslane – and to take advantage of 21st Century technology and training – it closed earlier this year.
Its successor, which has taken three years to design and build, features escape towers and escape compartments, the sea simulator, plus supporting classrooms, offices, workshops, plant rooms and changing areas.
“The Royal Navy’s reputation for submarine escape training has been signiﬁcantly enhanced by this impressive capability that combines both escape and surface abandonment training,” said Commander Duncan McClement RN, Fleet Operational Sea Training (Submarines), HMNB Clyde. “The SMERAS is fantastic, new and world-leading. It enhances the training for Royal Navy submariners.”
Beyond its role in teaching crews to leave a crippled submerged boat, the new facility will also dramatically improve training for abandoning a stricken submarine on the surface.
The complex is due to be fully operation by March 2021.
Navy News. (2021) Storm in a T-Boat. Navy News. January 2021, pp.9.