Australian Sub Flooding Casualty Details Revealed
Interesting article from The Australian today:
"An Australian submarine carrying 55 sailors was seconds from sinking to the bottom of the Indian Ocean following a catastrophic on-board flood off the coast of Perth.
"The near-tragedy has forced the navy to permanently reduce the diving depth of its fleet of six Collins-class submarines for safety reasons - a move that has weakened their military capability.
"An investigation by The Weekend Australian has revealed that an accident on board HMAS Dechaineux on February 12, 2003, was more serious than the navy has publicly admitted.
"I don't think there was anybody on our boat who wasn't shit-scared that day," said Able Seaman Geordie Bunting, who almost drowned in the flood and who has now spoken about it for the first time.
"Another five seconds and we would have been in big trouble ... another 10 and you have got to question whether we could have surfaced."
What's described next is one of a submariner's worst fears -- flooding in the Engine Room while deep.
"The accident happened about 40 nautical miles off Perth when a sea water hose in the lower engine room failed just as the Dechaineux, the fourth of the navy's six Collins-class submarines, was at its deepest diving depth.
"There was a loud bang and something hard flew past my head," Seaman Bunting said. "Then the water flooded in and I got tossed around like in a washing machine. It was coming in so fast I thought it was all over."
"Two sailors rushed to rescue Seaman Bunting from the flooded engine room as Dechaineux's captain Peter Scott and his crew tried desperately to stem the flow of sea water and make the stricken submarine climb.
"The crew succeeded in stopping the flood but the submarine had taken so much water it did not respond immediately to the emergency commands."
As they say... read the rest. I'm heading over to Rontini's Submarine BBS to see if the resident Aussie there has more info.
Staying at PD...
Update 1033 24 July: Here's an article from The Australian with more info:
"But the submarines continue to use the same type of hose as the one that failed and caused the flood because tests have failed to reveal a structural weakness in the hoses or explain why one failed on Dechaineux.
"This hose was in the lower motor room and was part of an auxiliary seawater system that provides cooling for the motors and is exposed to sea pressure.
"The only extra protection since the flood is restraints that have been placed around the hoses to prevent them becoming projectiles if they break."
For those non-submariners out there who might be wondering why they just don't use a hard pipe to replace the "hose", there is a reason...
Update 1208 25 July: Predictably, the opposition Labor Party seems to be wanting to score some political points from the news.