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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 75-78

Thermal considerations in escape vs. rescue from a disabled submarine

Classified Specialist (Marine Medicine), Resident Physiology. Department of Physiology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune 411040, India

Correspondence Address:
Sourabh Bhutani
Classified Specialist (Marine Medicine), Resident Physiology. Department of Physiology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune 411040
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-3605.202988

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If the situation would so occur, during a disabled submarine (DISSUB) situation the decision on whether to escape or to wait for rescue to arrive would a difficult one to make for a submarine commander. There would be certain situations where the decision would be unilateral, but often not so. Escape on one’s own means using the submarine escape set would be fraught with the possibilities of a multitude of medical problems whilst rescue would be associated with the uncertainty of the long wait for help to arrive. Nevertheless, if the conditions so allow, rescue is a preferable option. However, the catch is, ‘if the conditions so allow’. That means that the conditions inside the submarine have to be favourable for the crew to survive inside the submarine for a period of 3 to 6 days. The submarine therefore is accordingly provisioned with emergency food and water and regeneration equipment. However, one factor which can be the deciding factor for the decision between escape and rescue is that of temperature inside the submarine. In a study carried out on survival inside a submarine, submarine crew were made to stay inside a simulated disabled submarine for 24 hours surviving only on emergency food and water supply. The temperature and humidity inside the submarine rose to an extent that the crew suffered from dehydration and severe thermal stress. Thermal stress, especially, uncompensable thermal stress as would be expected inside the DISSUB, has been seen to lead to cardiovascular strain and increased ventilation later progressing to hypotension, lassitude and reduced cognition. The thermal stress therefore would need to be addressed so as to not to become a factor which would lead the crew to escape sooner rather than wait inside the submarine for rescue. This paper discusses the effects and the resultant consequences of thermal stress that would likely occur inside the disabled submarine especially with respect to the decision between escape and rescue.

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