Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Something Submarine: Bomb Dosposal

You may believe the headline, or not: November 27, 2007 ... Navy deal for bomb disposal sub

The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded a $2.7 Million contract for a prototype underwater bomb disposal vehicle to be used by the Navy. The HAUV is intended to navigate precisely on a curved ship's hull in order to inspect it, according to Bluefin.
... the HAUV (hovering AUV) is for ship hull inspection.

Closely held Bluefin Robotics Corp.'s products are capable of reaching the sea floor almost anywhere in the world and robust enough to be deployed in the Antarctic and the Labrador Sea, the MIT team has proven that AUVs can be a reliable, affordable tool. The inexpensive 6000 meter capable hovering autonomous underwater vehicles are intended for rapid deployments.

The HUAV is equipped with a Doppler Velocity Log, Inertial Measurement Unit, compass, Global Positioning System and a high-resolution DIDSON imaging sonar. Its lithium-polymer battery gives more than three hours of operation.

Products are specialized for three markets:
+Scientific research.
+Deep-water oil field surveying.
+Naval mine warfare and general clandestine battlespace preparation.

Detecting explosives attached to a ship's hull is certainly a mission in which the U.S. Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Hull Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Localization System (EOD HULS) program has expressed interest.

Is hull survey the objective in producing an improved Bluefin-12 (HAUV) prototype worth $2.7 million? Bluefin-12 communication specs include Iridium modem with encryption hardware and P-code GPS.

M.E. suspects the other, more mysterious objective refining Bluefin-21 (BPAUV): general clandestine battlespace preparation. The Bluefin-21 (as in 21" diameter) BPAUV covertly gathers accurate bathymetry and bottom classifications for use in the early stages of battlespace preparation. It can operate in a wide range of weather conditions, day or night, without compromising data accuracy and can be deployed from ____ . With a range of 4o nm battery (400nm fuel cell).

Sending submarines for preinvasion reconaissance is a relatively slow, high-risk and high cost proposition reminiscent of WWII methods. Collected info on a beach in that era , for instance, might include charts, photos and other details on:
Location: (description; dimension; gradient; physical consistency); Surf and current; Hydographic Information; Terrain Inland; Beach Defense; Shore defenses, etc.

Submarines can extensively monitor electonic emissions, collect high tech, even video photography, and deploy UAVs for improved mine countermeasures and sea floor data collection, for instance. The time between survey and strike has been compressed from weeks to hours. Even edgy types like Amadinejad and Chavez can still be surprised if and when surprise became necessary.

M.E. has only touched the surface of the possible. Iran's frantic haste to produce nuclear warheads may cause its own scientists to take short cuts that accidentally release deadly radiation again. That may be more probable.



At 29 November, 2007 09:37, Blogger Mikell said...

Howdy. I'm an engineer at Bluefin, and there are a few inaccuracies in your post, but I wanted to clear up one of the major ones: Bluefin produces a number of very different AUVS. The HAUV is the only hull inspection one, denoted by the H for Hovering in its name. The other AUVs are *not* HAUVs; they're torpedo-shaped robots named by their diameters. So the Bluefin-12 is not for hull inspection; nor is the Bluefin-9 or the Bluefin-21. Those are all for large area bottom surveys and carry different types of sonar than the HAUV does. And yes, we offer encrypted Iridium communications and P-code GPS, since it is a government requirement to have that capability (even if it is never used). We do have commercial customers to whom we offer civilian-class communication systems. There's really nothing to "suspect" about what our vehicles do; our website pretty clearly describes our ability to collect bathymetry data and environmental data for whatever our customers can use it for, and the paper you linked to on our website about the SMCM program also pretty clearly defines the Navy's application of our capabilities. The BPAUV is very similar; it just can carry larger and more varied sonar and sensor payloads with greater endurance.

Also, as one of the many non-MIT engineers here, we're no longer an "MIT team". ;) The company spun out of MIT ten years ago, but has significantly diversified since.

At 29 November, 2007 14:33, Blogger Vigilis said...

Thank you for commenting, Olinerd. Please, do accept my apology for the M.I.T. oversight.

The news article "Bluefin brings in Navy deal for bomb disposal sub" was about the HAUV, but not "bombs" at all. Did you not find that confusing?

My post mentions Bluefin's HAUV contract award, but focuses on: "the other, more mysterious objective - refining Bluefin-21 (BPAUV): general clandestine battlespace preparation."

I suggest technology available in one Bluefin product could be transferrable to another. Readers are given ample linkage to Bluefin's product website, applicable product claims, and more importantly, the curious verbage from both Bluefin and the Navy: "...general clandestine battlespace preparation" to judge for themselves.

Your thoughts are always welcomed.


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