An ESCAPEX is a live exercise – using in-service assets and serving crew members – to practice the process of escaping from a bottomed submarine. An ESCAPEX tests the ability of crew to correctly follow procedure and to properly operate escape equipment whilst subject to conditions as realistic as possible to an actual submarine incident. An ESCAPEX therefore provides the ultimate in training fidelity and can be viewed as a final validation of a Navy’s escape training programme. JFD’s submarine escape personnel have vast experience in the delivery of high-fidelity escape training, including first-hand experience coordinating ESCAPEX activities. JFD are able to provide this expertise to assist Navies wishing to conduct a safe ESCAPEX. Some of the ways in which JFD can assist are detailed below:
Location & Bottoming
One of the first decisions that must be made is where the ESCAPEX will take place and at what depth the submarine can be bottomed or moored. JFD can advise the best options for the conduct of a safe ESCAPEX.
Equipment & Procedure Evaluation
The purpose of an ESCAPEX is to control and evaluate the completeness, proper positioning, and proper operation of escape equipment during a realistic time-frame and appropriate conditions.
JFD can advise if the correct escape equipment is present, is ready for use, and if better equipment might be available. JFD can also advise on the proper use of the Guard Book and help to identify changes or additions which would help ensure safe escape operations.
Defining Limitations & Managing Risk
ESCAPEX limitations must be based on a realistic scenario and the time frame available to conduct the serials. For example, after each escapee reaches the surface a 15 minute break is necessary. A Doctor and Decompression facilities must also be available within four minutes of an escapee surfacing.
JFD can assist in the development of Risk Assessments for the entire ESCAPEX.
Medical, Comms & Safety
Participants must be informed in advance of the purpose of the exercise and the serial break-off points. Participation should be voluntary and informed consent should be signed by each participant. During and after the exercise the participants will be monitored by Medical staff. After the exercise all participants will be debriefed and will undergo a medical examination by a Doctor. To safeguard the health and safety of the participants a Disstaff ashore will have to maintain a 24/7 guard during the exercise and stay in contact with the boat by means of radio or Under Water Telephone. They also will be the liaison if an escapee requires transfer to a hyperbaric hospital ashore.
JFD can assist with issuing comprehensive briefings, defining ESCAPEX break-points and conducting thorough debriefs. JFD can also produce a Communications and Safety plan to be followed by the surface and sub-surface teams.
In the final OPORD all relevant values and consequent measuring methods shall be listed, which will be used by the Distaff to decide on continuation or ending of the exercise. JFD can assist in the development of the OPORD.
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