Software Platform for Submarine Rescue Missions

Tivix helped revamp and replace a NATO software system to organize and coordinate rescue missions for submarines in distress across the globe.


Year:2020 - present


The International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) is an organization that coordinates submarine search and rescue operations. ISMERLO aims to provide an international liaison service to prevent peacetime submarine accidents, and quickly respond on a global basis if and when they occur.

ISMERLO had been using a legacy system to assist with real-world submarine escape and rescue activities. While the system had been invaluable to the international community for many years, it was in need of a refresh. With an outdated legacy system, NATO needed to find a new solution for coordinating submarine rescue operations.

“This system is not simple at all. There is a lot of highly technical detailed information in there, but Tivix has done extremely well; they've delivered every single one of the requirements.”

NATO Communications and Information Agency

Maritime Service Owner

The Project

Recognizing the need for a system update, NCIA’s head of maritime IT services contacted Tivix with a set of requirements to support the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO) software platform.

NATO needed a partner that understood the importance of the platform; a system that would give submariners in dire situations hope and save lives in real-world emergency scenarios. Tivix was selected as a product partner for the ISMERLO system because of our track record of developing complex systems in a short timescale, and due to our work with similar international organizations.

The system Tivix rebuilt is a full Command and Control (C2) planning and coordination system, giving mission commanders a bi-directional information flow with the personnel, resources, and procedures necessary to complete rescue missions.

In the case of an emergency where a submarine fails, the software identifies the closest teams to the distressed submarine and coordinates rescue and medical capabilities to assist with getting personnel from the bottom of the seabed back to the surface.


A major goal of the project was to use modern open-source technologies to make the rescue system easier to maintain, and compatible with the latest web browsers.

The ISMERLO 2.0 web application is built using Django as the web application framework, with React as a frontend framework generating dynamic content in tandem with SASS/SCSS.

Tivix integrated the system with various external services and data sources. Incorporating accurate bathymetric data was crucial, as it allows the system to plot active vessels in distress.

Given that the system is used for an international military alliance, it deals with potentially sensitive and classified information. Therefore security was of paramount importance. Extensive vulnerability testing was conducted by NATOs cybersecurity team, and Tivix succeeded in delivering the system to their extremely high standards of information security.

Stability and scalability are essential for any emergency system. Our DevOps team orchestrated and deployed the application using a Kubernetes cluster on AWS. The system is designed for seamless scalability, as emergency situations can lead to a surge in demand on servers.

Project Management

Tivix rebuilt the ISMERLO system over the course of 12 months, working to 9 milestones. A detailed Project Management Plan was presented to the client at the outset of the project.

Kickoff began with an in-person workshop, followed by a design/UX phase, with subsequent development milestones performed using a hybrid-agile approach.

At the end of each milestone, NATO was presented with a feature demo. Stringent user acceptance testing was then conducted to make sure that all features passed the client’s requirements.


“We tested 350 top-level requirements and they passed 348 of them. One requirement was deferred from my request and one was a partial pass because I slightly changed the requirement partway through. Overall, this result is incredible. I have never seen that before.”

NATO Communications and Information Agency

Maritime Service Owner


The updated system is now live and in real-world use. Most recently it was used to plan and coordinate the response to the KRI Nanggala disaster. Whilst an extraordinary tragedy, the recent loss of the KRI Nanggala allowed for a full demonstration and ultimate validation of the system.

With over 41 nations (30 NATO member nations and 11 non-NATO nations) involved in this project, ISMERLO continues to onboard and train new users across the globe. With rollout underway, NATOs capability to react to submarine emergencies is greatly enhanced.

Following final system acceptance, Tivix remains under contract for ongoing product support, updates, and maintenance.


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