USN signs Hydroid contract for mine-countermeasures UUVs

Hydroid won a $52.3 million contract modification external link for production support for the MK 18 family of Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Systems.

The MK18 program supports UUV systems. Dubbed Mk 18 Mod 1 and Mod 2 Kingfish within the US Navy service, Hydroid’s Remus 100 and 600 UUVs feature a modular design which enables the Navy to easily reconfigure their sensors for mission specifics.

The biggest Remus 600 has a mission endurance of nearly 70 hours with speeds up to 5 knots at depths up to 600 meters.

The Kingfish uses side scan sonar to search and discover objects of interest. Developed since 2003, the Remus 600 has a range of 286 nautical miles with its increased payload.

Hydroid’s smaller MK18 MOD1 Swordfish UUVs are based on the REMUS 100 external link UUV. It possesses a small side-scan sonar, but its scan, resolution, and buried target detection don’t match the Kingfish. It’s also used for basic hydrographic profiling, however, which is a very useful as a baseline before mine countermeasures work begins.

Their MK18 MOD 2 Kingfish UUVs are typically used for mine countermeasures work, and are typically launched from ships, but they can also be hand-launched by teams in 11m RHIBs. They were deployed external link to the Persian Gulf earlier this year in response to Iranian threats, and replaced their smaller MK18 MOD1 Swordfish counterparts at that time. They’re based on the REMUS 600 external link UUV, with a Small Synthetic Aperture Sonar Module (SSAM) configuration that provides wider sonar swath scan, higher resolution imagery, and buried target detection.

Both of these UUVs are currently contractor-operated, but the US Navy does intend to begin operating them itself by 2015. They probably could be loaded onto a Littoral Combat Ship as an interim measure, ahead of the planned 2017 in-service date for Bluefin Robotics’ Knifefish SMCM mine-countermeasures UUV. Sources: GSN, “Navy to buy more unmanned underwater vehicles for mine countermeasures work” | See also ongoing developments around LCS & MH-60S mine counter-measures for a wider overview.

Hydroid will perform work in Pocasset, Massachusetts and estimated completion will be in April 2024.