Submersibles working with RN

Discussion in 'Submariners' started by Dexter, Dec 11, 2007.

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  1. Hi everyone,

    I've been something of a lurker on the site for a while. I'm not in the service but have always had an interest and respect for everyone that is. Hope you don't mind!

    I wanted to ask some of the older people on here about submersibles. My dad worked most of his career as a commercial diver and eventually ended up as a submersible piolt with Vickers Oceanic and then an outfit called Osel. He doesn't talk about it too much so i'm interested to hear more.

    I know he spent alot of time working with RN boats and was based for periods at Kyle of lochalsh in the late 70s. Mainly using the Pices subs with Vickers back then. A couple are still in use and there's a photo here:

    I was just wondering if anyone came across this bunch and whether there's any interesting stories to tell. I believe they used to do torpedo recovery etc.

    One last snipit of information. The family's from Lowestoft in Suffolk with a boatyard on the Harbor. My dad had a smile on his face when an old ship got laid up there a couple of years ago - the Torch. I think it might have been an RFA or something.

    Cheers :thumright:
  2. Worked with Pisces 2 of the Pool Fisher, and the same one with the Venturer as well.
  3. Welcome to the site Dexter - The original Project Manager for the LR5 build is in an office down the corridor from me. I'll go talk to him when he gets in. The RAN has a strange sub-rescue system; an ROV with a 1 ATA transfer chamber. I'll try and dig some info out on that as well.

  4. Much appriciated. We have an old published account at home called 'no time on our side' all about Pisces 2. The boats are a two sphere design with motors etc in the rear compartment and the two man crew forward. Back in the mid 70's she had the hatch to her rear compartment torn off by her own recovery cable after a long dive. She sank like a stone to the bottom of the Atlantic - can't remember the depth but it was about 200 miles south west of cork. Crew were trapped for several days at 90 degree angle with little power, air and supplies. Plenty of mention of CO2 scrubbers etc. Eventually they were found by Picses V and rescued via a cable inserted by a new military ROV. It might still be the deepest undersea rescue in history.

    It was a big rescue op apparently and did involve some Navy or RFA ships. Funny thing is you can't find any reference to it on the web etc. Another heroic episode lost in time.....

    LR5 - i remeber during the whole Kursk episode my dad mentioning he knew the guys who'd worked her up back in the day....


  5. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I believe that that the Pisces is now on display at the Sea Life Centre in Brighton, prior to that it was at the Weymouth Sea Life site
  6. Welcome aboard Dexter, if you are interested in the RAN SRV you can read about it here:
  7. Hi Dexter welcome to RR.

    Minor correction the motors were not in the rear sphere they were external, it was just the motor control and the batteries in the rear sphere. I remeber that incident well as I had known both pilots when I had worked with the Pisces team. I was actually the passenger with one of them on his first solo dive after qualifying in Loch Fyne a few years before. They offered me a job when I left the mob but I declined.
  8. Hi Maxi, thanks for the correction. Not bad for off the top of my head but it's been a while since i've look at the story in detail or any of the photos / information my dad keeps. Also thanks for the other links.

    Interesting to hear one of the boats is in the Sea Life Centre. I was wondering where they ended up. Anyone else know of any around? I know the Vickers support ships (Viking, Venturer etc) went to Indian beaches years ago.

    I had a laugh earlier this year when the science museum was in the news looking for 50 million for a new site near Swindon. One of the pieces in thier collection and shown in the coverage is the Mantis one man sub. My dad was the first man (or one of) to dive it and there it is in a museum! You've probably all seen that particular sub in 'For Your Eyes Only' but it was the designer Graham Hawkes piloting it. When that starts to happen then you know you're getting old.
  9. No problems, Vickers Oceanics worked for me for 2 years when I was a sea trials officer on the first get well programme for the Mk24. We started with Pool Fisher as the mother ship which resulted in the occasional 'moment' especially in confines spaces and strong winds. The we got Vickers Venturer which was less stressful. The guys did marvelous work and I went down quite a few times, quite an experience.
  10. Theres good reason why he dosnt speak of his past.

    Nudge nudge wink wink.
  11. info on Pisces III accident

    ' Vickers' submersible Pisces III was bottomed 150 miles off the coast of Ireland during cable burying operations. At 0945 on Wednesday 29th August 1973, Pisces III reported: "On bottom / 1,575ft stern stuck, communications every half hour till we sort ourselves out."
    Pisces II and V arrived early Thursday morning to assist in the rescue and left for the casualty zone around mid-morning. After Pisces II sustained damage to its arm and hydraulic elbow, Pisces V bottomed at 0615 on Friday, but took six and a half hours to locate the submersible because Pisces V's gyro was not processing properly, sonar tracking had been distorted by trawlers in the area and Pisces III's depth gauge had produced a false reading.
    Also used in the rescue was CURV III--a Controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle, originally designed to recover test ordnance at depths of 2,000ft, but became famous in 1966 with the recovery of an H-bomb off Spain at 2,800ft.
    The rescue operation ran into further troubles on the Friday when Pisces V reported a low battery at 1715 and at 2359 CURV III communicated a fault. Once the repairs had been made, CURV III was launched again at 0940 on the Saturday morning and by 1035 a toggle had been attached and Pisces III was eventually lifted clear of the water at 1317.

    The two pilots of Pisces III were Roger Chapman and Roger Mallinson
    Roger Chapman went on to found Rumic who run the LR5 rescue sub service
    Roger Chapman wrote a book entitled 'No Time on Our Side' detailing the experience on the seabed
    Roger Mallinson is still involved with nautical things , making steam engines for boats
  12. Roger Chapman was a trainee when I worked with Pisces and I was his first 'passenger' when he qualified as a Pisces pilot.

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