Sea Technology

NOV 2013

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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AUVs Provide Broad Support To the US Navy Increasing Effciency with Unmanned Vehicles By Tom Reynolds T he U.S. military has added signifcant robotics capabilities to its forces over the past decade. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, have become an indispensable part of the modern U.S. Air Force, and light robots are regularly deployed with counter-improvised explosives device (IED) task forces on land. Less publicized in the media, the U.S. Navy has also incorporated robotics into its operations in the form of AUVs. Just as UAVs and counter IED-robots have increased the capabilities of the Air Force and Army, the introduction of AUVs to the U.S. Navy have made naval operations safer and more effective. Salvage Operations One of the primary noncombat uses of AUVs by the U.S. Navy is the recovery and salvage of aircraft that have crashed into the sea. Unlike wrecks of naval vessels, which remain largely intact on the seafoor, crashed planes are typically broken into several hundred pieces by the force of their impact with the ocean surface. This creates a debris feld on the seafoor, which can be as large as a square mile, making the collection of intelligence from the wreckage very diffcult. This was the exact situation faced by divers from the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 in August 2013. On August 1, two F-16 fghter jets clipped wings during a routine training mission off the coast of Virginia, causing one of the two jets to crash into the Atlantic. When expensive equipment is accidentally lost during a training exercise, it is critical that its wreckage be salvaged so that the exact cause of the accident can be determined and prevented. MDSU 2 embarked aboard the Navy rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp (T-ARS-51) on August 6 to search for the wreckage, equipped with a MK 18 Mod 1 AUV. The MK 18 Mod 1 AUV is a modifed version of the REMUS 100 AUV built by Hydroid, Inc. (Pocasset, Massachusetts). The vehicle was originally designed to perform low-visible exploration, reconnaissance and hydrographic (Top) U.S. Navy MK 18 Mod 2 as part of rigid hull infatable boat operations in Bahrain, May 2013. (Bottom) U.S. Navy MK 18 Mod 2 launch in Bahrain, May 2013. mapping in the very shallow water (VSW) zone (depths of less than 40 feet), but is capable of depths just beyond 300 feet seawater. A man-portable vehicle, the Mk 18 Mod 1 can be rapidly deployed via small boat, truck or helicopter to www.sea-technology.com November 2013 / st 23

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