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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fighting Sea Mines: Long Range AUV Endurance Run

NRL photo
A prototype Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) sets an endurance records that may help the U.S. Navy counter-sea mine operations and, maybe, other operations. Navy 'Mine-Hunter' AUV Sets Mission Endurance Record:
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) Acoustics Division, with Bluefin Robotics, executed a record setting 507 kilometer (315 mile), long-endurance autonomy research mission using its heavyweight-class mine countermeasures autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Reliant.
Navigating from the waters of Boston Harbor, the 20 foot long, 1,350 pound, 'heavyweight' AUV traveled south past Cape Cod, headed west through Nantucket Sound between Martha's Vineyard and the mainland, and then continued south of Long Island to the approaches to New York City. The fully autonomous endurance mission was designed to push the boundaries of traditional AUVs with the objective to uncover the challenges and requirements for significantly extending AUV endurance for new applications.
"This record multi-day research mission demonstrates the state-of-the-art autonomy methods and capabilities of the Reliant AUV," said Dr. Brian Houston, head, NRL Physical Acoustics Branch. "It is our first step in developing a robust autonomy paradigm for AUVs in long endurance scenarios."
Houston and his team are developing AUV based technologies that include extension of the Knifefish technology (as part of the Office of Naval Research Future Naval Capabilities program), increasing ranges for mine countermeasure (MCM) operations, and advancing autonomy for AUVs. Houston's team is also applying this new technology to shallow water Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). This more recent development provides the Navy with the technical foundation for high performance detection and classification of difficult ASW targets using active sonar on AUVs in challenging environments.

The purpose of the system is to address the Navy's need to reliably detect and identify undersea volume and bottom mines in high-clutter environments with low false alarm rates. The Knifefish system is a part of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasure (MCM) mission package targeted to reduce risks to personnel by operating in potential minefield regions as an off-board sensor, allowing host ships to remain at safe distances outside minefield boundaries.
NRL Image
Mine neutralization operations are by their nature generally slow. Tools like this might speed things up in the right circumstances.

And you gotta love that teaser about "ASW . . . in challenging environments."

1 comment:

  1. Even better would be offensive mining using such systems as these and wave rider tech to make mobile mines that could be dropped far from the targeted area use self propulsion to navigate to a designated area then go active.

    It would make the enemies anti mine forces have to sweep resweep continuously everyday because new arrivals would appear on station daily without notice. ASW against such small targets especially with wave rider type propulsion would horribly difficult. Hell the propulsion unit could even be used only as a transporter dropping its cargo then heading back for a reload.

    When deployed in a enemies near seas like say the first island chain even slow systems steadily deployed would be devastating to the enemies port facilities.