Bold Monarch 2011, the world's largest submarine search and rescue exercise, began on May 30th with more than 2,000 personnel and 20 ships getting underway from Cartagena, off the coast of Spain. Led by the Spanish command ship Galicia, the group brought in a range of submarine rescue systems, sophisticated intervention equipment, divers and medical personnel. With more than 40 nations operating submarines, the compatibility between assets and standardization of procedures in submarine rescue is exceedingly important.
Mating of rescue systems with bottomed submarines began following a brief search exercise as SRDRS, operating with HOS Shooting Star, mated with the Turkish submarine Anafartalar. History was made when a Russian Submarine Rescue Chamber, controlled from the Russian support vessel Epron, successfully mated with the Spanish submarine Galerna. The Submarine Rescue Chamber is a part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and has only ever worked with submarines of the former Soviet and now Russian submarine service.
On day two, NSRS, operating from KL Sandefjord, successfully mated twice with the Spanish submarine Galerna and a medical exercise was conducted on the Shooting Star. Day three brought some rough seas, but NSRS was still able to mate with Portuguese submarine Tridente. The French ship Pourquoi Pas used divers to connect ventilation equipment to the Spanish submarine Galerna and completed a successful ventilation exercise (VENTEX). Bold Monarch will culminate with a 48-hour scenario involving the rescue of more than 150 personnel from multiple ships. Aircraft from Italy will deliver divers from the Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom via parachutes to provide first response.
This information was derived from official NATO press releases. Additional information can be found on Facebook at the Bold Monarch 2011 page.