Black Carillon ’13

Black Carillon ’13


Black Carillon is an annual exercise conducted by the Royal Australian Navy which is designed to test the capabilities of the Commonwealth’s submarine rescue provision. Since 2008, this capability has been provided by JFD in the form of the James Fisher Submarine Rescue Service.

Each Black Carillon takes on a different area of focus so as to continually advance the capability. For Black Carillon 2013 the focus was on the ability to deploy the JFSRS by air to the opposite coast of Australia and to test an innovative launch and recovery arrangement.


The JFSRS is maintained at a constant 12-hour state of readiness in Henderson, Western Australia. As the exercise began, all equipment required for the safe extraction and decompression of crew from a disabled submarine was loaded onto lorries, ready for transportation.

The LR5 submarine rescue vehicle was loaded into a specialist air-freight crate, specifically designed to allow safe transportation of the vehicle by air. LR5 and the Scorpio 45 Intervention ROV were taken to RAAF Base Pearce for loading onto RAAF C17 aircraft. The loadings were facilitated by the use of JFD-designed loading ramps.


Pre-Engineering & Mobilisation

Pre-Engineering & Mobilisation with LR5 and Scorpio in the air, and the remaining equipment making the 2000-mile journey to Sydney by road, JFD’s Mobilisation Team began preparing ADV Ocean Shield. Engineers installed four specialist deck-stools allowing the athwartships installation of LR5’s Launch & Recovery System. DNV provided third party verification of the work.

Doing so allowed JFD to launch and recover LR5 over the side of the mothership instead of the more conventional stern-launch arrangement. Never before attempted anywhere in the world, this arrangement allowed safe operations of LR5 without requiring extensive and costly modifications to the stern of the vessel.

Intervention ROV Operations

With the JFSRS successfully installed, a series of work-up trials demonstrated the safe operation of the equipment prior to the deployment of a subsea mating target at the location where the emergency recovery of LR5 could be practised.

Upon successful completion of these trials, Ocean Shield relocated to where the submarine HMAS Farncomb sat bottomed in 112 meters of water. Scorpio was once again deployed in order to carry out a visual inspection of the ‘disabled’ submarine.

RV Rescue Operations

Checks completed, LR5 was launched over the side of the mothership and was piloted to HMAS Farncomb. With a hard-seal established with the submarine’s mating seat, personnel – some able-bodied, others simulating injury – were transferred into LR5 for transit to the surface.

LR5 would complete this cycle three times over a 36 hour period, simulating the rescue and transfer of the entire crew to the surface and into the Transfer Under Pressure system onboard Ocean Shield.

Full 36 Hour Rescue Simulation

Following each of the three recoveries, the rescuees were transferred at a constant pressure from LR5’s rescue chamber, via a Universal Deck Reception Chamber and One-Man Transfer Chambers, into the Royal Australian Navy’s decompression facility.

This process was repeated, in real time, simulating a 36-hour operation to rescue the entire crew of a Collins class submarine. The exercise provided a valuable opportunity for testing the ability of the RAN’s diving medical teams, proving their ability to manage all aspects of the decompression process.


Ocean Shield, the RAN and JFD crews returned to Sydney where the process of mobilising the JFSRS was put into reverse. As per the load-out, LR5 and Scorpio returned to Western Australia via RAAF C17 aircraft, whilst the remaining equipment was transported by road.

Ocean Shield, the latest addition to the Navy’s fleet, was restored to her former state and set sail for her next task supporting the Royal Australian Navy, and the JFSRS was reinstated at Henderson – ready to mobilise once more within 12-hours’ notice.


The effective management of the entire operation; from the logistics of mobilising the JFSRS, to the safe extraction and decompression of the crew, and to the reinstatement of the service at Henderson; was a demonstration of the expertise, professionalism and commitment of JFD’s most important assets: our people.

JFD’s team in Australia maintain the year-round readiness of the JFSRS and undertake frequent, regular training exercises locally in WA. For deployments such as BC13, these core personnel are complemented by personnel from JFD’s teams around the world. Staff from Singapore, Canada and the UK contributed to the success of BC13.


“Your efforts, team work and professionalism
are of the highest order and are in the finest traditions of the
Submarine Force and the Royal Australian Navy”

Captain Mark Potter, Royal Australian Navy


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