Friday, July 31, 2015

Autonomous submarine could replace SEAL vehicle

U.S. Navy SEALs have to infiltrate and extract from some of the most hostile areas in the world, and many missions involve traveling underwater. The Mark 8 SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) has been used for decades for this purpose, and one group thinks they have the vehicle to replace it.

Proteus is a streamlined mini-sub that is the brainchild of Huntington Ingalls Underwater Solutions Group, Bluefin Robotics and Battelle. The "dual-mode" vehicle can operate manned or unmanned for a wide array of missions.

Proteus weighs just over 8,000 pounds, and can deliver at least six fully equipped frogmen to their

destination over a range of 350 to 700 miles depending on the batteries used. It has a top speed of 10 knots and cruises at 8 knots, and is equipped with multi-beam sonar for avoidance and navigation. It operates at a disclosed maximum unmanned depth of 200 feet, or 150 feet with divers on-board.

The fact that Proteus can operate autonomously is a dynamic capability to ponder as it opens up a wide new concept of operations while still filling the same logistics footprint as the SEAL Swimmer Delivery Vehicle.

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