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A little bit of Nerwin will live forever

One of the most interesting submersibles ever to not take up a slot on the U.S. Navy List was Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1, a nuclear-powered testbed for Rickover built by Electric Boat in the 1960s.

Isn’t it cute?

The 400-ton 147-foot vessel, typically referred to as Nerwin during her uncommissioned existence was only retired in 2008 and may or may not have performed several classified Cold War-era missions.

Defueled and scrapped, some of her components were later put on display at the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton and now the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has her salvaged control room.

As originally installed

Now landlocked

“It’s a proud moment for us to be able to present this to the museum,” PSNS Commanding Officer Capt. Howard Markle told the Kitsap Sun on the occasion of its transfer to the museum last week. “We’re grateful for their willingness to accept it for eventual display, and we’re especially thankful for their commitment to educating the community — and our Navy family — on the men and women, the vessels, the mission and the legacy of our Navy’s undersea warfighters.”

Breaking news, for 1945

Hot off the presses from Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (COMINCH), and COM 10th Fleet, 8 May 1945

Coming home from the desert

Delivery of the remains of Sottocapo Silurista (Chief Torpedoman) Carlo Acefalo, late of the Royal Italian Navy submarine Macalle, to Italian Ambassador Fabrizio Lobasso for their repatriation to Italy after 78 years in the Sudanese desert.

The event occurred at Port Sudan, 18 April 2018.

Acefalo, 24, died of food poisoning after the 600-Serie Adua-class submarine was scuttled in WWII and the crew forced to escape and evade the British along the coast of the Red Sea. Italy has sought the return of the remains for years and the lost submariner is the subject of a documentary in that country.

Macalle was one of four Italian submarines lost in action in the Red Sea during WWII.

One of the most advanced U-boats ever to take to the sea, located

Ordered in 1943 from F Schichau GmbH, Danzig as werk 1668, German submarine U-3523 was an advanced Type XXI U-boat that wasn’t completed until 23 January 1945– just over two months before Berlin fell. Attacked by a British B-24 Liberator of 86 Squadron/G RAF on 6 May, only two days before VE-Day, she sank off Jutland with 58 souls aboard.

And, thanks to Sea War Museum Jutland, she has been found.

Found at 123m, she is literally stuck in the mud: U-3523 appeared on the screen during the museum’s scan of the seabed ten nautical miles north of Skagen, and the picture was very surprising. Most unusual the whole fore part of the U-boat lies buried in the seabed, while the stern is standing 20 meters above the bottom.

From Sea War Museum Jutland:

After the war, there were many rumors about top Nazis who fled in U-boats and brought Nazi gold to safety, and the U-3523 fed the rumors. The Type XXI was the first genuine submarine that could sail submerged for a prolonged time, and the U-3523 had a range that would have allowed it to sail non-stop all the way to South America. But nobody knows if this was the U-boat’s destination, and nobody knows, if the U-boat had valuables or passengers aboard in addition to the 58 crew, all of whom perished.

More here

197 days on a snorkel boat is a hell of a thing

Here we see the Canadian Navy’s Victoria-class submarine HMCS Chicoutimi (SSK 879) tied up at her home at CFB Esquimalt, B.C. after completing a 197-day deployment in Asia-Pacific.

That’s a long time in any platform, much less on a 230-foot diesel electric sub which are designed for 45-day trips. In fact, according to a presser from Ottawa, this is the longest deployment of a Victoria-class submarine to date.

“I am incredibly proud of the work done by the submariners on board HMCS Chicoutimi,” said Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander Royal Canadian Navy. “Their consistent dedication and professionalism is an inspiration. The advantage that submarines can bring to a battlespace cannot be underestimated. They are stealthy, lethal, and persistent. They are an important strategic asset that the Canadian Armed Forces brings to the table when working with our partners and allies around the world.”

Chicoutimi deployed on patrol in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a strategic engagement mission, for 197 days. This is the longest Victoria-class deployment to date. Prior to this, the longest Victoria-class single deployment was a 101-day North Atlantic patrol by HMCS Windsor in 2015. HMCS Windsor is once again deployed, currently supporting NATO operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Chicoutimi operated with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the United States Navy (USN) for several months, a period which included participation in the annual USN-JMSDF ANNUALEX – a three week bi-lateral exercise which was made tri-lateral for the first time with the inclusion of Canada in 2017. She visited Hawaii, Guam, and Japan during the six-month deployment. The visit to Yokosuka, Japan was the first by a Canadian submarine since the visit by HMCS Grilsein May 1968.

Chicoutimi is one of four Victoria-class submarines in the RCN. Chicoutimi along with HMCS Victoria and HMCS Corner Brook are based out of CFB Esquimalt, while HMCS Windsor is based at CFB Halifax in Nova Scotia.

Commissioned in 1990 as HMS Upholder, Chicoutimi was transferred to the Canadians in 1998 as the Royal Navy got out of the diesel sub game for good.

The proud seventy-three of the 39th Combat Diver Course

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has a number of specialized frogmen units including combat swimmer detachments of the Special Operations Force and the Naval Diving Unit (NDU), dating back to 1971. To become an elite amphibious warrior takes over 20 weeks of training.

The above video shows RADM Tan Wee Beng, Chief of Staff – Naval Staff, inspecting the 39th Combat Diver Course last week.

As noted by LTC Sng Meng Wah, Commanding Officer, Dive School, Naval Diving Unit the Republic of Singapore Navy:

“It has been a tough 6 months for these trainees to transform from civilians to Naval Divers following their enlistment into Naval Diving Unit in March this year. They have learned not just to dive with SCUBA and Closed Circuit Re-breathers, but in the process, have also grown physically stronger and mentally tougher in preparation for them to work in the harsh environment we divers work in.

This underwater parade signifies the start of their journey as a Naval Diver and showcases to their parents the diving abilities that each and every one of these divers have learned over the course of their training in Dive school. I wish them all the best when they proceed to serve their National Service in the various operational units in NDU.”

A peek into how the unit is crafted below

The Russians are going Cold War deep

The Russian Red Banner Fleet is rediscovering very deep manned salvage/rescue ops via atmospheric diving suits (ADS). These things date back to the 1900s with the U.S., Germany and the Brits leading the way and Moscow playing catchup. Since 1989, with the atrophy of the late-Soviet fleet, the Russians have largely lost their very deep skills and their divers have been kept north of the 100m depth with the only occasional use of hardhat gear on mixed air such as Heliox and Trimix to go gradually deeper.

However, over the past couple of years, the Russians have invested in relearning the lost skillset and last year used ADS systems to hit the 317m mark, and are pushing to 400m in coming months. More from Russian state media below:

Besides obvious overt uses in salvage and submarine rescues, such deep water skills also prove useful in covert taskings such as in eavesdropping on subsea cables.

As a matter of record, U.S. Navy Chief Diver (DSW/SS) Daniel P. Jackson hit the 610m mark inside a Hardsuit 2000 off southern California back in 2006. He reportedly enjoyed the show very much.

“At 2,000 feet, I had topside turn off all the lights, and it was like a star show. The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most of the sea life down there started to glow,” Jackson said.  “When I started to travel back up, all the lights looked like a shower of stars going down as I was coming up. It was the best ride in the world.”

In other news, Russian state media also posted this interesting piece about combat swimmers under ice. Seems like a theme.

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