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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saving large amounts of expensive breathing gas, such as the helium/oxygen mix used commonly in deep-sea diving. Mine Countermeasures Besides salvage and recovery missions, the U.S. Navy also uses vehicles based off Hydroid REMUS AUVs for mine countermeasure (MCM) operations. As the Sea Stallion helicopters and Avenger-class MCM ships that have been the backbone of the Navy's MCM capabilities since the late Eighties begin to age out of service, AUVs are being introduced to enhance MCM capabilities in critical areas of responsibility. The U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet, whose area of responsibility includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea and parts of the East African coast, uses several MK 18 Mod 2 AUVs for its mine countermeasure operations. Based on the Hydroid REMUS 600 AUV design, these vehicles are much larger than the MK 18 Mod 1 and can operate for longer mission durations at greater depths and carry more sophisticated sonars. These operational capabilities make the MK 18 Mod 2 an important tool in the Fifth Fleet's efforts to secure this strategically vital region. The MK 18 Mod 2 has a maximum mission duration capability of 20 hours and a top speed of 5 knots, which makes it particularly well-suited for continuous monitoring of choke points and Q-routes. With the ability to be deployed by an 11-meter rigid hull infatable boat (RHIB) or directly from a ship, these AUVs are ideal for covering areas suspected of enemy mining without ever advertising exactly where the Navy is searching. In May 2013, these vehicles were used in the International Mine Countermeasure Exercises (IMCMEX), hosted by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/U.S. 5th Fleet. The IMCMEX is a multilateral defense exercise in multiple operating areas in the Arabian Gulf. More than 6,500 service members, 35 ships and three task forces operated the length of the Gulf, through the Strait of Hormuz, and into the Gulf of Oman. In addition to the MK 18 Mod 2, the Naval Oceanographic Offce also operates the littoral battlespace (LBS) AUV, which is another version of the REMUS 600. Three LBS units have also been ordered by U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and are currently under construction. Conclusion The addition of robotics technologies to warfare has had signifcant impacts across all branches of the U.S. military. A strong portfolio of AUVs, designed to meet the needs of any combat or noncombat mission, will be critical to the continued success of the U.S. Navy in the coming years. n Commander Tom Reynolds is a retired U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) offcer and deepsea diver who joined Hydroid Inc. in the fall of 2012 as business development manager—defense. Reynolds is a veteran of multiple combat deployments, including six in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has served as the EOD and Diving Task Group Commander in the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet and as commanding offcer of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2. www.sea-technology.com November 2013 / st 25

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