Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Royal Navy SETT

The Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT) is a 100-foot (30 m) deep facility primarily operated to conduct training with submarine escape equipment, operated by the Royal Navy. The facility, locatedin Portsmouth, includes a fresh, chlorinated water column with a single escape chamber (as fitted to some classes of RN submarines) mounted at the base, through which students can conduct a fully representative escape cycle from 100 feet (30 m), closely replicating actions which would be required if forced to abandon a distressed submarine from depth. The SETT was commissioned in 1954, with the first students trained in July of that year. Since that time completion of ‘the Tank’ has been a rite of passage for all RN Submariners. Training includes ascents from increasing depths as a major element, but in addition is underpinned by lectures and practical training in how to survive within a disabled submarine, operation of emergency equipment and survival techniques on reaching the surface – a package of potentially life saving skills. Over the years, the SETT has been used to train submariners from Italy, USA, Greece, Canada, Israel, Russia, Venezuela, Turkey, Australia and the Netherlands – with the staff and facility enjoying a worldwide reputation for excellence and good practice. Owing to a combination of increased safety associated with modern submarine design, submarines operating in areas where escape would be impossible with current equipment and the risk associated with the conduct of training, the RN discontinued pressurised submarine escape training in March 2009.

The tower is also privately hired to civilian SCUBA dive clubs for the purpose of recreational diving. It is a popular 'novelty' dive amongst UK divers since it allows new trainees to extend their depth experience in a safe, controlled environment with good visibility and warm water temperature - two conditions in short supply in the UK. For similar reasons it is also used for freediving training, with participants including World Record holder Tanya Streeter. In addition, SETT has been used frequently for both underwater equipment testing, and to support media activity - notably hosting Blue Peter on a number of occasions with some presenters completing ascent training.



SOUL SWIMMING. Some people go to a deserted island, a waterfall, the rain forest, ... or some real or imaged place in their mind. To shut out the world and find some sort of inner peace, within a calm meditative state. I go back to the Escape tank in the UK. I do the whole run again, from the beginning: as you do. Suited up and in the chamber, feeling it all again, like it's brand new. Plugged in and waiting, keeping the Panic in. Cool under the pressure, fuck yeah. Wave your left leg in you are in trouble, I'm sure I couldn't move for shaking. In rushes the warm water, and I'm floating in my own private spacesuit. The pressure increases and I keep ahead of it, suddenly it's raining, there's drops on my faceplate. I'm suspended now, held on a tether, bobbing in the bottom of the tank. JUST BREATH NORMALLY AND YOU WILL BE OK A man swims up to me and he is talking, Fuck me I can hear what he's saying. 514 Sir and I'm hooked to the jack stay, and up, up and away. I lay back relaxed"at ease" Cradled in this fluid embrace, I ride quickly and gently, up through this magical liquid space. JUST BREATH NORMALLY AND YOU WILL BE OK How's the serenity? Flying through the void with Darth Vader Breathing in my face, my blood pumping in my ears and my heart drumming in my chest, I glide through this silence in my own company. 12 seconds and an eternity pass, as I rush towards the surface, Breaking into the noise and the bright lights, like a dolphin leaping free of the waves. Then it's back to the beginning again. REPEAT AS NECESSARY Or every 4 years.

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