The Navy's deep submergence capabilities are centered at Submarine Development Group ONE in San Diego, California. In addition to numerous other deep ocean assets, five manned submersibles (TRIESTE II, SEA CLIFF/ TURTLE and DSRV 1 and DSRV 2) have been operated for the past six years, resulting in a wealth of operational experience. Characteristics of these submersibles and summaries of their operations are discussed. Based on experience gained in operations, several material/ reliability problem areas are presented.
The U. S. Navy's operational command for deep submergence systems is Submarine Development Group ONE located in San Diego, California. The Development Group was established-in 1967 by the Chief of Naval Operations as part of the Pacific Submarine Force. It acts as the Navy's sole operating arm devoted to the development of deep submergence capabilities for search, location, recovery, and rescue anywhere in the world's oceans.
Establishment of the Development Group was an outgrowth of the Deep Submergence Systems Review Group established by the Secretary of the Navy in 1963 after the loss of the Submarine THRESHER and the demonstrated inadequacy of the Navy's deep ocean capabilities as revealed in the searches for the THRESHER in 1963 and 1964 and the H-Bomb off Palomares, Spain in 1966. Prior to 1967, deep ocean capabilities, where they existed at all, rested almost entirely in various prototype and "one-off- a-kind" systems. These were commonly operated by numerous organizations such as Navy laboratories, universities, and other institutions generally supported by research and development funds. Historically, the operating forces of the Navy (i.e., Fleet) were forced to rely on this mixture of deep ocean assets to respond to contingency operations.
In the ten years since its inception, however, the Development Group has centralized the Navy's deep submergence operational experience and assembled the largest array of diverse deep ocean assets ever operated and maintained under one organization, civilian or military. These assets include deep submergence work vehicles, deep submergence rescue vehicles, support ships, a deep diving research submarine, submarine rescue ships, advanced saturated diving systems, schools for training divers and deep submergence vehicle operators, a biomedical research department, shore-based maintenance activities, and unmanned tethered systems. The greatest wealth of deep submergence experience at the Development Group to date, however, has been with manned submersibles. Hence, it is to these systems that this paper will be directed.
The Submarine Development Group currently operates five manned submersib1e systems: two Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRVs), two sister work submersibles (TURTLE and SEA CLIFF) and a bathyscaph (TRIESTE II). All are manned, operated, and maintained by Navy personnel specially selected and trained for their assignments.