|DeepWorker 2000 (forward) and Dual DeepWorker (aft) deep-water work submersibles|
[credit: Nuytco Research Ltd]
The DeepWorker (DW) single-person and Dual DeepWorker (DDW) two-person submersibles (identified by the Russians as "ARS-600" (autonomous work submersible-600 meters)) allow one pilot (DW) or one pilot + one passenger (DDW) to operate underwater at depths of 1,000-3,000 feet, depending on the model and configuration. The submersibles can remain submerged (tethered or untethered) for up to six hours during normal operations. The submersibles can be used to:
- search for and examine a submerged object;
- retrieve submerged objects weighing up to 80 kg;
- attach lines to objects weighing more than 80 kg, then deliver the line ends to a surface vessel that can then lift the objects;
- clear the rescue hatch cover of a distressed submarine so that a deep-submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) can land on the hatch to rescue the submarine crew;
- attach hoses to provide high-pressure air and ventilation to a distressed submarine;
- perform other operations.
The RF Navy has been testing the DW/DDW submersibles since at least 2012. Russian Navy head Admiral Chirkov visited the MOD's Scientific Research Institute of Rescue and Undersea Technologies (Lomonosov) in June 2012 to get a first-hand look at the submersibles. Reporting to date indicates the new Belousov-class submarine rescue vessel "Igor Belousov" will be equipped with at least one DW/DDW. Other vessels not permanently equipped to support the DW/DDW, such as Kashtan- and Sura-class heavy-lift vessels, could be quickly configured to serve as temporary Vessels of Opportunity (VOO), as needed.
|Civilian research vessel "Heather Sea" - February 8, 2013|
[credit: Stanislav Kruglov]
The November testing was in jeopardy of being delayed due to personnel matters. A month before departing Varna, Bulgaria, the owners of "Heather Sea" were accused of not paying wages to the ship's employees. On November 6, the ship's chief engineer, Albert Andrianov, sent an on-line petition to the State Labor Commission for assistance in getting his company to pay RUB 700,000 in wage arrears (from mid-June through October). Following the commission's intervention, the company paid the engineer's wages through September. A week later, "Heather Sea" was in Anapa, Russia.
|Track of "Heather Sea" - January 11, 2015|
To date, at least eight DW/DDW submersibles have been ordered for the fleet (excluding the DW/DDW submersible(s) tested in Lomonosov). The first four were to be delivered in 2014, with another two to be delivered to Baltiysk in 2016, and a final pair to be delivered to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in 2017. It is not clear if the two DW/DDW used in the November 2014 testing were from the first batch of four that were scheduled for delivery in 2014 or the two that were previously delivered to the MOD's Scientific Research Institute of Rescue and Undersea Technologies by 2012.