How Deep-sea Rescue Works

Stricken Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi wallows in heavy seas as a salvage vessel moves into position.
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A submarine explodes 3,000 feet beneath the ocean's su­rface, sealing off the crew in a confined space. It's cold and dark, and oxygen supplies are running low. Pressure keeps the ­hatch closed, but even if it opened, the human body could never survive at this depth. The only thing to do is to wait for help from above.

Fortunately this scenario isn't one that happens very frequently. Deep-sea rescue missions are few and far between because of the rarity of submarine disasters. Only a handful of countries even maintain deep-sea rescue operation capabilities. As a result, most missions are carried out on a multinational basis.

In this article, we'll look at the history of deep-sea rescue and the special equipment currently being used and in development. We'll also look at some of the training exercises, as well as efforts being made around the world to avoid submarine disasters.