The NATO exercise ‘Sorbet Royal 2005’ is the largest and most challenging live submarine escape and rescue exercise ever conducted. It is being held in the Mediterranean off the coast of Taranto, Italy from 19– 30 June 2005. The exercise will test international submarine escape and rescue personnel, equipment and procedures to cope with the most extreme submarine rescue missions and will involve ships, aircraft and submarines from ten nations.
During the four week exercise, four submarines, from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey, will be placed on the bottom, each with up to 52 men onboard while rescue forces with a range of sophisticated rescue vehicles and systems from the USA, Italy, France and the UK, together with Special Forces divers, medical teams and support and salvage ships from France, the Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Spain and the UK, will work together to solve complex disaster rescue problems in a variety of diffi cult scenarios.
This year for the fi rst time forces from Ukraine and Russia will also be participating. The Kursk tragedy in August 2000 added a powerful impetus towards an internationalization of submarine escape and rescue that had already begun among the submarine operating nations of NATO. With over 40 different nations now operating submarines worldwide, interest in the exercise is expected to extend to the entire global submarine community including China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile and many others.
The exercise will be conducted in four phases culminating in the fi nal week with a large scale coordinated rescue and evacuation of pressurized survivors from a submarine, including many casualties. Signifi cant emphasis will be placed on the medical problems of removing everyone to safety, as well as the complex logistical and practical problems of compatibility and interoperability between rescue assets, standardization of procedures and co-ordination and co-operation between nations, and military and civilian organisations.