AUV Deployment by the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet

By Tom Reynolds
Monday, November 11, 2013
U.S. Navy MK 18 Mod 2 (Hydroid REMUS 600) Vehicle Recovery During Mine Countermeasure Mission.

The U.S. Navy has made significant changes to its mine countermeasures (MCM) operations over the past decade as its Avenger-class MCM ships and Sea Stallion helicopters approach the end of their service life. One of the most significant developments has been the introduction of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) into regular deployment by the Navy. The MK 18 Mod 2, a specialized version of the REMUS 600 AUV built by Hydroid, Inc. in Pocasset, Mass., is currently used for MCM operations by the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet in their area of responsibility, the Arabian Gulf. Using this technology to its full effect has had significant benefits.
The deployment of AUVs for mine countermeasures has allowed the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet to more safely and effectively ensure the security of our seal lanes of communication. The MK 18 Mod 2, like all REMUS 600s, has a maximum mission duration capability of 20 hours and top speed of five knots, allowing a single vehicle to survey significant portions of narrow and shallow straits in a single deployment. After the MK 18 Mod 2 has surfaced, its depleted battery can be quickly recharged and the vehicle redeployed.
The ability of the MK 18 Mod 2 to operate without being tethered to a ship makes it difficult for enemy forces to detect. In current 5th Fleet MCM operations, the AUV is launched from an 11 meter rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) deployed from an amphibious transport dock, such as the former USS Ponce. Deploying the vehicle from a small RHIB makes its launch more difficult to detect and its area of operation harder to determine.
The MK 18 Mod 2 can remain submerged for its entire mission duration, making it nearly impossible for the enemy to counter without advanced technology. This is especially important for combating non-state actors – similar to IEDs, naval mines are inexpensive and easy to deploy, making them an attractive option for terrorist groups.
For shallow water mine countermeasures and hydrographic reconnaissance, the MK 18 Mod 2 uses two primary instruments: side scan sonar and a downward looking camera. On its first deployment to a new area, the vehicle collects high-resolution bathymetric data and images that allow it to establish a baseline map of the seafloor. During subsequent deployments, the AUV looks for any changes in the terrain of the seafloor which may represent a mine. Once a mine has been positively identified and its location fixed, a Remotely Operated Vehicle or diver can be sent in to destroy it. Data collected by vehicle can then be integrated with other intelligence to identify to help determine the mine’s origin.
In addition to the MK 18 Mod 2, the U.S. Navy also uses another modified Hydroid vehicle for MCM operations. The MK 18 Mod 1, an AUV based on the Hydroid REMUS 100 vehicle, is a smaller, man-portable vehicle designed for rapid deployment to very shallow water (VSW) regions. Ideal for fast moving expeditionary forces, the Swordfish can be launched from nearly anywhere and can be flown by helicopter directly to the point of need.  Though it lacks the deeper water capabilities of larger AUVs, the MK 18 Mod 1 is very effective at quickly clearing harbors and ports where mines are suspected.
Currently operated by civilian contractors, the Hydroid AUVs in use by the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet are expected to come under full Navy control in 2015. As the newer littoral combat ship (LCS) enters broad deployment over the coming decade, the MK 18 Mod 2 can continue to serve a role in MCM operations. The LCS will have the capability to deploy several types of AUVs depending on the needs of the mission – the mid-depth MK 18 Mod 2 and the ultra-portable MK 18 Mod 1 can complement the capabilities of other AUVs on-board the LCS, allowing the ship to conduct effective mine countermeasures in any marine environment.
 

The Author
CDR Tom Reynolds USN (ret.) is a retired Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer and U.S. Navy Deep Sea Diver who joined Hydroid, Inc. in Fall 2012 as Business Development Manager - Defense. Email: sales@hydroid.com



(As published in the October 2013 edition of Marine Technology Reporter - www.seadiscovery.com)

  • Tom Reynolds

    Tom Reynolds

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter July 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

MSC Invests in TRAXENS Container Monitoring

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has reached an agreement to back French start-up TRAXENS, a developer of cargo logistics solutions and creator of a container monitoring and coordination system.

B&G Software Upgrade for Zeus2 and Vulcan Chartplotter

B&G, the world’s leading sailing navigation and instrument specialist has upgraded its latest software for the full range of Zeus2 and Vulcan chartplotters. The

Ithaca’s FPF-1 platform to be moved to Stella field

Ithaca Energy Inc. reports that the "FPF-1" floating production facility has completed the required inclination test as planned and departed the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland.

Navy

Piracy Drops to 21-year Low, IMB Reports

Piracy and armed robbery at sea has fallen to its lowest levels since 1995, despite a surge in kidnappings off West Africa, according to a new report from the

New Details Emerge on Loss of USS Indianapolis

A Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) historian has recently uncovered information that sheds new light on the loss of the World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35).

HII Names Leonard a Corporate Director

Capt. Joseph J. Leonard (U.S. Navy, Ret.) has joined Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) as corporate director of customer affairs, large surface combatant program, the shipbuilder announced.

News

Will UK Maritime Traffic Rise or Fall on Brexit?

UK container traffic will see more muted growth than expected a few months ago, at least in the short term, says Drewry.   Patrick Walters, Peel Ports’ Group Commercial Director,

Nigeria Becomes Piracy Kidnapping Hotspot, says IMB

Despite global improvements, kidnappings are on the rise, with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016, 24 of them in Nigeria, up from 10 in the first half of 2015.

Boeing 767 Shipped by Barge

MTS Statum completes marine towage of barge carrying Boeing 767 from Shannon Airport   Marine service provider Marine and Towage Services Group Ltd. (MTS) has

Eye on the Navy

New Details Emerge on Loss of USS Indianapolis

A Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) historian has recently uncovered information that sheds new light on the loss of the World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35).

This Day In Naval History: July 25

1898 - During the Spanish-American War, a landing party from the armed yacht, USS Gloucester, single-handedly captures Guanica, Puerto Rico. 1943 - The first

ASEAN Breaks South China Sea Deadlock

Manila drops request to refer to court ruling in statement. Southeast Asian nations overcame days of deadlock on Monday when the Philippines dropped a request

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1431 sec (7 req/sec)