Physical and physiological aspects of submarine tower escape

  • Geoffrey Alfred Mark Loveman

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


My work has involved the investigation of physical and physiological issues related to submarine escape and rescue, including animal experiments using goats, human experiments,engineering and equipment based trials and also the development of a number of mathematical models for the prediction of equipment performance and physiological aspects of decompression. In addition to my published papers I have authored or made substantial contribution to over sixty reports funded by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UKMoD).

Experiments in which I made significant contribution in terms of original conception, design, data acquisition and analysis have provided evidence for the efficacy of surface oxygen as a treatment for decompression illness following submarine tower escape and demonstrated that breathing raised partial pressures of carbon dioxide in a distressed submarine then switching to diving quality air in the escape tower is not likely to prevent successful escape.

The submitted work demonstrates an advance in our knowledge of the risks of decompression illness and a substantially improved level of confidence in the predictions of mathematical models of decompression illness for submarine tower escape. These are the first semiempirical probabilistic models of decompression illness to combine animal and human decompression illness data using body mass as a scaling factor. Provision of more detailed information on risks of decompression illness and likely outcomes has allowed me to argue for a change in escape policy which has been accepted by the UK Royal Navy (RN). My suggestions for optimising tower escape are to be tested on board UK submarines in the future, prior to possible adoption by the RN. The iso-risk curves I developed for probability of decompression illness and predicted probability of survival following submarine escape have been included as advice in the latest update to ATP-57, the NATO submarine search and rescue manual.

Date of AwardJan 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMike Tipton (Supervisor)

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