Another chapter has been written in the joint SA Navy/ Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT) experiment on the use and implementation of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
Following the data collection experiment earlier this month, a decision was taken to demonstrate AUV deployment from a Navy mine counter-measures (MCM) vessel. The IMT’s AUV was fitted into its container and securely strapped to an MCM vessel sea boat which was then lowered into the water using the onboard crane the Navy page on the SANDF website reports.
“The crew embarked with the sea boat and deployed the AUV for a short survey mission. The AUV was again recovered and although the mission was executed with the MCM vessel alongside it showed deployments of this nature are feasible.”
In a second part to the experiment the AUV was deployed from the harbour wall of the east dockyard basin. The AUV was driven, on the surface, to the centre of the basin via Wi-Fi remote control before being commanded to dive and start the survey.
“On completion of this short survey the AUV was controlled on the surface back to the launch position and recovered. This type of deployment is suitable for surveys close to a launch position such as within port confines or immediately outside a port entrance,” the Navy web said.
The experiments with the AUV are part of building capacity in the MCM sphere and follow what has been termed “a steady decline in both skilled personnel and equipment over the last few years”.
The side scan sonar fitted to the AUV allows for an image of the seabed to be created in such detail that identification of mine-like objects can be performed. Once identified further counter mine measures can be employed to ensure safety of vessels.