Navy orders unmanned combat vehicles for littoral combat ship to find and kill ocean mines

WASHINGTON, 5 April 2016. U.S Navy mine warfare experts are strengthening the counter-mine warfare capabilities of the littoral combat ship (LCS) with an order last week for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and munitions that detect, pinpoint, and destroy underwater anti-ship mines.

Navy orders unmanned combat vehicles for littoral combat ship to find and kill ocean mines
Navy orders unmanned combat vehicles for littoral combat ship to find and kill ocean mines
WASHINGTON, 5 April 2016. U.S Navy mine warfare experts are strengthening the counter-mine warfare capabilities of the littoral combat ship (LCS) with an order last week for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and munitions that detect, pinpoint, and destroy underwater anti-ship mines.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington placed an $11.2 million order last Thursday with Atlas North America LLC in Yorktown, Va., for SeaFox explosive and inert rounds, as well as an AN/SLQ-60 shipboard SeaFox control system for the LCS.

The Atlas SeaFox mine-disposal UUV is based on an expendable mine-disposal vehicle (EMDV). The semi-automatic UUV can detect and classify mines and other munitions concealed underwater to attack surface ships and submarines.

The UUV is guided by a fiber-optic cable, and can help with damage estimation, intelligence, route survey, maritime boundary control, and harbor surveillance. Atlas North America is a wholly owned subsidiary of ATLAS Elektronik GmbH of Bremen, Germany.

Related: One component of the LCS counter-mine package is in trouble, but others are ready to step-up

The system, which consists of a console, a launcher, and the SeaFox vehicles, can launch from naval minesweepers, surface warships, rubber boats, and from helicopters.

story continues below

SeaFox comes in four variants: a one-shot mine identification and disposal system; a mine identification, inspection, and training UUV; a training version; and one equipped with an explosive ordnance disposal tool.

The SeaFox UUV is about four feet long, one foot wide, and weighs about 95 pounds. The UUV uses a transponder- and responder-aided dead reckoning pressure sensor for navigation in the sea. The operator communicates with the SeaFox using a fiber-optic cable.

The vehicle includes four independent reversible motors and a hover thruster to maneuver, and powered by chargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. It can relocate previously detected underwater objects automatically within minutes with its homing sonar.

Related: Raytheon, Applied Physical Sciences to develop Navy unmanned mine-hunting technology

After relocating, the onboard CCTV camera identifies suspected mines and destroys them with a built-in large-caliber shaped charge.

The contract announced last week has options that could increase its value to $48.2 million. Atlas will do the work in Bremen, Germany; Panama City, Fla.; and Yorktown, Va., and should be finished by April 2017.

For more information contact Atlas North America online at /www.na.atlas-elektronik.com.

More in Unmanned