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H.I. Fraser continues to hit the target

The winning entry in the recent PACE Zenith Awards’ ‘Machine Builder’ and ‘Oil and Gas’ categories was a solution for the support of the Australian Navy’s Submarine Escape Rescue System (SERS) Hyperbaric Suite. 

It contains two air transportable containers that provide the submariners in all seven integrated diving locks of the hyperbaric chambers with environmental control (heating/cooling/humidity control) as well as diving quality breathing air.

According to the company, this is a world first and is novel for two reasons.
Firstly, it meets and exceeds the IMCA offshore diving environmental control standards despite the sheer volume of gas, number of people being decompressed and number of integrated diving locks.

Secondly, it addresses the issue of significantly reducing the footprint for traditional SERS by using a low-pressure air compressor solution. The compressor solution exceeds the safety requirements for breathing quality diving air.

The project became an R&D project when two offshore diving manufacturers failed to deliver working systems and/or refused to quote to supply because the Defence contract functional performance specification was deemed to be unachievable. 

H.I. Fraser achieved the complete spectrum from design to delivery in 12 months.

The company started off at first principles and designed and manufactured the ECS and LPAC/DB containers that meet the contract requirements. To do this they had to engineer world-class solutions. The process of designing the ECS and LPAC/DB utilised state of the art 3D CAD manufacturing techniques. 

The best example of the benefits from this was when the custom containers were held up in China due to two typhoons. Despite the aggressive timeframe, the company did not break schedule as they used the 3D CAD drawings to prefabricate the LP Air, seawater and fire system pipe work. This meant they were able to commence fitting the pipework very efficiently and without delay once the container shell arrived in Australia.

The culmination of the project was three days of manned dives across all seven chambers. The risks associated with the manned dives cannot be understated. They pressurised the divers on six occasions to 50m (mean seawater) and kept them there for 25 minutes at a time. For each dive the recompression time was 1.5 hours in addition to the bottom time.

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