Letter of Record
3 November 2011
Reporting in the Australian newspaper today concerning the release of refrigerant gas in HMAS Farncomb has again sensationalised an incident that the submarine’s crew handled professionally in accordance with established emergency operating procedures, which are regularly drilled throughout the submarine fleet.
The released refrigerant gas, Freon was contained in the aft compartment of the submarine. As a precaution, the submarine’s cooling system was shut down, and thermal load in the submarine was reduced by surfacing. Procedures call for the use of the emergency blowing system in such circumstances, which ensures there remains sufficient stored air for use during the process of clearing gas from the submarine.
The incident occurred late on the evening of 27 October. The following day, the Defence Department released a media statement containing known facts. This release was entirely appropriate.
The report also suggests that an investigation has concluded that an earlier propulsion defect in HMAS Farncomb was due to crew mistakes. A preliminary engineering report has attributed the defect to the failure of switchboard components, which are being further investigated. Another investigation into the delay in restoring propulsion is yet to be presented.
Vice Admiral Ray Griggs
Chief of Navy