Sailors from the Los Angeles-class attack submarine Toledo gave high marks in recent tests to the prototype steam suit protective gear they would use to fix steam line leaks that posed a threat to the crew and the boat.
In tests at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., members of the Toledo's crew said the new suit gave them more flexibility and was easier and quicker to put on. They especially liked the three-finger glove, as opposed to the mittens on the old suit that has been in the fleet for years.
In one test, Machinist's Mate 1st Class Nathan Lindner pulled on the gloves and boots of the new suit, donned the face shield for the self-contained breathing apparatus, and then slid into the sliver prototype and strapped on the air tank in a shade over two minutes.
At the same time, it took Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Cameron Sebastian over four minutes to wrestle himself into the old steam suit used throughout the fleet.
"It was pretty dramatic seeing the differences between the old and new steam suits -- especially how they affect the speed getting into it, as well as mobility," said Sebastian.
The prototype suit was developed by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) to aid first responders confronted with dangerous, high-pressure steam leaks and now is being tested at sea aboard the Toledo.
"In the unlikely event this piece of damage control equipment is needed, time is of the essence to protect not only the individual, but the entire boat," Office of Naval Research Command Master Chief Matt Matteson said.
"The new steam suit provides enhanced flexibility, maneuverability and ease of donning during such an emergency," Matteson said, according to a Defense Department news release.
"Our goal was to create a lighter suit that enables users to get around better, quicker and easier," said Bob Bassett, NAVSEA's branch head for in-service submarine propulsion and electrical systems. "It's an all-around improved suit, and we can't wait to get feedback from the Sailors after the trials."