Bluefin Robotics has delivered new vehicles to the US Navy to enhance its ability to remotely search and investigate ship hulls.
The ship hull inspection systems can be used to search harbour sea floors and other underwater infrastructure for limpet mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other objects of interest.
The delivery is part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System (EOD HULS) programme.
Each EOD HULS System, known as MK19, is comprised of two vehicles and associated support equipment.
Equipped with Bluefin’s third-generation Hovering Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HAUV-3), the MK19 system can detect IEDs and limpet mines on ship hulls, piers, pilings and quay walls for harbour and force protection.
Bluefin Inspection Systems director Jerome Vaganay said: "The MK19 vehicle operates by hull-relative navigation and control and provides very detailed acoustic images of a ship hull with 100% sonar coverage, without prior knowledge about the ship.
"Although it looks like a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with its six thrusters and its fibre 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."
With this delivery, the navy now owns ten production vehicles and two prototypes. It is also scheduled to purchase two more systems under the $15m EOD HULS contract.
Image: Bluefin Robotics EOD HULS MK19 systems four and five vehicles. Photo: courtesy of Bluefin Robotics.