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HMAS Huon participating in Exercise CASSOWARY 2013. Credit: CoA / Navy Imagery Unit – North
locating objects with accuracy; while communicating
continuously with a mother ship.
Thales Underwater Systems, ECA Robotics and
four French tertiary education institutions are partners
in this project.
Thales is responsible for overall project coordination,
the high resolution sonar sensor and associated
on-board intelligence processing, as well as the
system deployment. Thales is currently conducting a six
month trial to validate the design and new embedded
ECA is in charge of the AUV and all aspects
related to navigation, autonomous behaviour and
communications. ECA have considerable experience
with AUVs, especially their OLISTER model. This
will be used as a forward detection system (FDS)
for mine hunting missions ahead of a ship; detection
and classification of ground and moored mines
on the continental shelf; and seabed survey and
investigation. The OLISTER can also be configured as
a mine identification and disposal system (MIDS) for
relocation, identification and destruction of ground and
moored mines; mid-water or seabed inspection.
Weighing up to 600 kg and being less than 6 metres
long, these types of AUVs could be deployed or retrieved
by a ship’s crane, with 1200 kg lift at full extension,
working off a large offshore patrol boat e.g . the
Armidale replacements. On board space requirement
is typically the size of a 20ft TEU Operation Centre
Container for mission supervision and data processing,
with a second similar sized alongside container for AUV
transportation, storage and maintenance.
Can an AUV like Asemar do the job?
A definitive conclusion has to await the outcome of
current trials. Early indications are promising, with an 8
knot top speed and an endurance of 12 hours at 4.5
knots with lithium batteries. (AUV endurance can be
increased by use of an umbilical cord to the mother
ship.) The sonar range is 150 metres on each side,
with a range resolution of 3.5 cm and object location
accuracy to within 10 metres after a 10 hour mission.
At standard operating speed and conditions, 2 square
kilometres of sea can be covered per hour. Maximum
operating underwater depth is 300 metres.
OTHER MINEHUNTER ROVs
Although the Asemar project has been featured, as
an example of an AUV likely to be tactically deployed
by 2020 in the French Navy, it is by no means the
only mine warfare and hydrography ROV available for
underwater tasks. Atlas Electronik SeaCat, Kongsberg
MineSniper Mk II or HUGIN, Saab AUV-62MR UUV or
Double Eagle SAROV, and BAE Systems Archerfish,
are all significant ROV products coming, or actually
are, on the market.
DOWN FOR A COUNT, BUT NOT YET
Without reporting a detailed analysis of what parts
of SEA 1180 could be salvaged to improve the
capabilities of the Armidale replacement, it can be
seen that there is scope for two maritime warfare and
engineering specialists, (please, NOT a huge DMO
project team), to investigate options to be included.
ROVs like Asemar, OLISTER, and others possibly meet
many of the criteria set for SEA 1180.
It could be a case of requiring the ACPB replacement
design to be ‘Fitted for, but not with’ operating ROVs,
with clear space, power supplies and crane capacity
on a slightly modified proven vessel. This could be
achieved by extending length overall by as little as 8
metres to fit side-by-side the containers required for
The ACPB replacements will not be the full offshore
combatants in number or capability planned by SEA
1180. However a lot of that project’s mine warfare
and hydrography benefits could be included at modest
Atlas Electronik SeaCat,
Mk II or HUGIN, Saab
AUV-62MR UUV or Double
Eagle SAROV, and BAE
Systems Archerfish, are all
significant ROV products
coming, or actually are, on
HMAS Shepparton conducting the Torres Strait Survey.
19/09/13 9:59 AM
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