The second phase of the ‘Joint Sea 2017’ Sino-Russian exercise conducted the first underwater mating of a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) rescue vehicle with a submarine from a foreign navy.
During the exercise, which took place from 18 to 22 September in the Sea of Okhotsk and followed preparatory briefings in the Russian Naval base in Vladivostok, the PLAN’s LR7 rescue submersible attached itself underwater to a Russian submarine simulating a disabled boat on the sea bed, according to Chinese news reports.
It is likely that a Russian Kilo-class boat simulated the distressed submarine (DISSUB), with media reports implying that it was bottomed in 80 m of water.
For the submarine rescue exercise, the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) tasked the Project 21300 rescue ship Igor Belousov , which deployed the Project 18270 rescue submersible AS-40. Igor Belousov entered service in 2015 and is operated by the RFN’s Pacific Fleet.
The PLAN deployed the Dalao-class (Type 926) submarine rescue auxiliary (ASR) ship, Changdao , which is one of three 9,500 tonne Type 926 ships commissioned by the PLAN since 2010 specifically designed to support submarine rescue submersibles.
The Type 926 is operated as mothership for the LR7 rescue submersible, which was built by UK company Perry Slingsby Systems and entered service in 2010. The LR7 has the capacity to transfer 18 crew from a DISSUB to the mothership, and can operate for about 12 hours before needing to be recharged. The media reports state that the mating exercise was completed in about an hour.
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