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ISMERLO Northwood Achieves Full Operational Capability

NORTHWOOD, UK – Last week, Commander Submarine Forces NATO (COMSUBNATO) certified the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) relocation to Northwood as having achieved full operational capability (FOC), at the conclusion of a two-day Alerted Mobilization Table Top (AMTT) Exercise.

The exercise, which ran from 10-11 June, marks the culmination of a transition of ISMERLO headquarters from Norfolk, Virginia, to COMSUBNATO in Northwood, UK.  The first day focused on the Alert and Mobilization phase of a submarine rescue, while the second day focused more on the conduct of a rescue using multiple rescue systems.

ISMERLO’s website (, is a password-protected collaborative online platform available to all submarine forces and rescue assets worldwide so that they work together in quickly, efficiently, and effectively responding to a submarine in distress.  The exercise also tested a directed shift to the ISMERLO back-up site

The AMTT exercise was supported by COMSUBNATO personnel, the ISMERLO technical advisor and personnel from the US Navy’s ISMERLO Reserve Support Detachment.  Its aim was to test their abilities to support multi-national submarine escape and rescue exercises and to provide support and coordination for a Global Submarine Rescue Event.

"In the event that a submarine from any nation becomes disabled, timely response is vital to saving the lives of the Sailors aboard,” said Rear Admiral Matthew Zirkle, COMSUBNATO.  "Our ISMERLO team performed admirably in demonstrating that they are ready to engage with various sections of the Allied Maritime Command headquarters and the wider Submarine Escape and Rescue community in order to provide support and coordination for a real-world event.”

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