By John Keller
ARLINGTON, Va.–U.S. Navy researchers are developing an autonomous submarine that gathers military intelligence information in coastal waters and harbors by deploying and operating small unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) as a distributed, collaborative suite of electronic sensors.
Officials of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., awarded a $2.5 million contract to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in San Diego in November to develop a prototype UUV mothership able to deploy small surveillance UUVs in littoral waters.
Doing the unmanned vehicle work will be engineers in the SAIC facilities in Lynnwood, Wash. Funding for the program comes from congressional earmarks requested by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash.; and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.
The ONR contract to SAIC is part of a program called Autonomous UUV Delivery and Communication (AUDAC), first funded in 2008 to develop UUV host capabilities by demonstrating a UUV to carry and deploy small, information-collecting underwater drones.
The Manta UUV, shown above, was developed by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center as a potential UUV mothership.
“Typically, manned platforms such as small boats must be used to deploy small UUVs in hostile waters, according to an announcement by Sen. Murray. “Project funding will go toward developing the capabilities of larger UUVs to do this job instead.”
SAIC experts will design a demonstration in which a host UUV carries, deploys, and recovers smaller UUVs, and collects intelligence sensor data from the small UUVs.
The AUDAC unmanned underwater mothership program is part of a larger ONR initiative called Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology (ONR BAA09-001).
More information on this contract is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DON/ONR/ONR/Awards/N00014-10-C-0073.html. For more information, visit SAIC online at www.saic.com.