leaders are working hard to put certain systems in the field
with utility early and iteratively work toward perfection.
Reaching that end result does come with a little more technical risk, but the conventional wisdom is that this
approach provides capability faster with less overall cost.”
The REMUS 600 will be launched from the SSN’s Dry
Deck Shelter “with a high degree of autonomy,” Hartsfield
said. “Launch and recovery of a UUV is an engineering
challenge that has been solved in multiple ways over the
past decade. In some ways, recovery via submarine is
much simpler without turbulent seas on the ocean surface that cannot always be predicted at time of launch.
Submarines can do recoveries well below the wave line no
matter what the weather is on the surface.
“The submarine force has launched a wide variety of
devices from our ocean interfaces,” he said. “The tor-
pedo tubes are no different. The mid-sized UUV does
fit inside any submarine torpedo tube. URCI has a pro-
gram to allow torpedo tube launch of UUVs, as well as
Dry Deck Shelter launch. We have a wide range of pro-
grams that use all submarine interfaces with the ocean
to deliver capable payloads.”
Command and control connectivity is another chal-
lenge being overcome, Hartsfield said.
“UUVs have successfully transmitted data via antenna, acoustics and optics. They can communicate with
manned platforms and each other. Networking systems
is powerful in some cases, but not always necessary as
UUVs continue to pass important autonomy milestones.
Just like manned submarines, they will connect when
needed and not at all if need be,” he said.
One of the main challenges in UUV operation is the
need for powerful but safe battery technology.
“Lithium ion batteries are really considered a standard
for what provides the most power per unit of weight,”
Reynolds said, noting the November 2008 fire that damaged the Advanced SEAL Delivery System, believed to
have been caused by lithium ion batteries, raising safety
concerns. “That caused the Navy to go into a hold on lithium ion until they could better and more safely certify
these batteries. Right now, the REMUS UUVs are going to
be operating with the submarine force but will be using
alkaline primary batteries,” which cannot be recharged.
“Primary batteries are used now,” Reynolds said.
“They are safe, but once the mission has been conduct-
ed they need to be replaced. Secondaries [which are
rechargeable] are where the future is, but there are
safety concerns. Certifying secondaries for the fleet to
use on any platform is a major Navy effort and Hydroid
is supporting the Navy in this.”
The Navy has plenty of experience operating REMUS
UUVs, which are certified for use from oceanographic
survey ships — in the form of the Littoral Battle Space
AUV — the USS Ponce afloat forward-staging base ship,
patrol craft and 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats. The
8-inch-diameter REMUS 100, as the Mk18 Mod 1 UUV,
and the REMUS 600, as the Mk18 Mod 2 UUV, have
served in the mine-countermeasures role.
The REMUS 100 was used in the initial stages of
Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Umm Qasr port-
clearing role, where Reynolds, as a Navy explosive ord-
nance disposal officer, had first-hand experience with
the UUV. The Mk18 Mod 2 currently is deployed with
the U.S. Fifth Fleet and has achieved a 98-percent
availability rate. The REMUS is the only UUV to reach
full-rate production for the Navy so far.
Though the REMUS 600 is modular, it is “not like
Legos,” Reynolds said. It requires a climate-controlled
environment where technicians can swap out mission
sensors without dust and sea air contaminating the
“The most important aspect of our vehicles is their
reliability and I think REMUS vehicles have been key for
the Navy to see that you can put more and more complex
and expensive sensors on this vehicle,” he said.
Another UUV now available for launch from a submarine with an extended Dry Deck Shelter is the
Proteus, a large, free-flooding mini-sub that is unique
in that it can be operated as a swimmer-delivery vehi-
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / JUNE 2015
The Navy will deploy a Virginia-class attack submarine
later this year with a REMUS 600 unmanned underwater
vehicle (UUV) aboard. The UUV will be launched from the
sub’s Dry Deck Shelter. The REMUS 600 shown here
was launched from a surface vessel.