HC Deb 25 July 1956 vol 557 cc45-6W
83. Dr. Bennett

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is his policy about methods of escaping from submarines.

Mr. Ward

The methods of escape from sunken submarines have been reconsidered in the light of the most recent progress. A method has now been developed by which men trapped in a sunken submarine can escape in rapid succession in immersion suits by floating to the surface through canvas trunks which extend down into the submarine from escape hatches. A system for providing purified air to the men before they escape is built into the submarine.

Trials have shown that this method gives the best chance of escape from depths down to 200 feet, and it has therefore been decided to fit all present and future submarines with this system.

In addition, future submarines will be fitted with a hatch at each end to which a rescue bell can be attached by rescuers working outside the vessel. The use of this method is limited, because it depends on the presence of a ship with a rescue bell; but it can be used at depths greater than 200 feet.

More extensive trials of the one-man escape chamber previously intended for new submarines have shown it to be inherently unreliable when needed. Its performance is therefore unlikely to match the weight and space requirements which it imposes. Further development of this device has therefore been abandoned.