Mystic-class deep-submergence rescue vehicle

Mystic class is a class of Deep-Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRVs), designed for rescue operations on submerged, disabled submarines of the United States Navy or foreign navies. The two submarines of the class were never used for this purpose, and were replaced by the Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System.


DSRVs are designed for quick deployment in the event of a submarine accident. DSRVs are transportable by truck, aircraft, ship, or by specially configured attack submarine. At the accident site, the DSRV works with either a "mother ship" or "mother submarine". The DSRV dives, conducts a sonar search, and attaches to the disabled submarine's hatch. DSRVs can embark up to 24 persons for transfer to the mother vessel.

The DSRV also has an arm to clear hatches on a disabled submarine and a combined gripper and cable cutter. The gripper is able to lift 1,000 pounds (450 kg).


The Deep Submergence System Project was established in June 1965 in the aftermath of the loss of USS Thresher in 1963.

At the time, submarine operating depths greatly exceeded the capabilities of rescue vessels. Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was contracted to produce a deep diving rescue submarine. In an effort to win the design and construction contracts for a DSRV, the company built Deep Quest. She was launched in June 1967.[1]

The first DSRV was launched in 1970.[2] While it has been alleged that the stated goal of the DSRV project was unrealistic, and that it was a front for research on undersea espionage, including cable tapping,[2] the DSRVs have a demonstrated rescue capability, and have conducted numerous practice rescue missions.

DSRV-1 was launched in San Diego, California, on 24 January 1970. Testing culminated in an operational evaluation that saw a complete, simulated submarine rescue mission. DSRV-1 was named Mystic during Fleet Acceptance Ceremonies in 1977.

The second, and final, vessel in the class, DSRV-2, was subsequently launched and named Avalon.

DSRVs in fiction

The DSRV was portrayed in the 1978 movie "Gray Lady Down", where it was used to rescue the crew of a sunken submarine. The DSRV Mystic was prominently portrayed in the movie "The Hunt For Red October"; she is shown using the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Dallas as her mothership, and is used to transport personnel from the Dallas to the Russian ballistic missile submarine Red October.

General characteristics

Builder:Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Sunnyvale, California
Power Plant:Electric motors, silver/zinc batteries, one shaft, 15 shaft horsepower (11 kW), four thrusters, 7.5 horsepower (6 kW).
Length:49 ft (15 m)
Beam:8 ft (2.4 m)
Displacement:38 tons (39 metric tons)
Speed4 knots (7 km/h)
Maximum depth:5,000 ft (1500 m)
Sonar:Search and navigation
Ships: Mystic (DSRV 1)
Avalon (DSRV 2)
Crew:Two pilots, two rescue personnel and the capacity for 24 passengers

List of vessels

See also


  1. "Artifact spotlight : Deep Quest" (PDF). Naval Undersea Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 Mar 2016.
  2. Sontag, S.; Drew, C.; Drew, A. L. (1998). Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage. Harper. ISBN 0-06-103004-X.
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