Bluefin Robotics has delivered new vehicles to the United States Navy that will increase the Navy’s capability to remotely search and investigate ship hulls, harbor sea floors, and other underwater infrastructure for limpet mines, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other objects of interest.
The Navy accepted delivery of Bluefin Robotics’ ship hull inspection systems 4 and 5 under the “Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System” (EOD HULS) Program of Record.
Each EOD HULS System (known as MK19), consists of two vehicles and associated support equipment. Bluefin’s third-generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3), used in the MK19 system, was developed under Office of Naval Research and the EOD Program Office (PMS 408). The vehicle allows detection of IEDs and limpet mines on ship hulls, piers, pilings, and quay walls for harbor and force protection, the company explained.
“The MK19 vehicle operates by hull-relative navigation and control and provides very detailed acoustic images of a ship hull with 100 percent sonar coverage, without prior knowledge about the ship,” said Jerome Vaganay, Bluefin’s Director of Inspection Systems.
“Although it looks like a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) with its six thrusters and its fiber optic data tether, the vehicle is powered by an onboard battery and operates primarily autonomously with the ability for the operator to take manual control to investigate contacts,” Vaganay said.
With the delivery of systems 4 and 5, the Navy currently owns 10 production vehicles and two prototypes. Another two systems are scheduled to be purchased by the Navy in 2015 under the EOD HULS contract, which is worth $15 million.