cle manned vehicle or as a UUV. The battery-powered
Proteus has 170 cubic feet of interior space for cargo or
can carry two pilots and six swimmers (eight in another configuration). The cargo bay has ventral doors that
open like an aircraft’s bomb-bay doors for placement of
sensors, mines or other objects on the sea floor.
External rails on each side allow the Proteus to carry
The Proteus can transport a payload of 3,600
pounds of in-air weight and, when in the water, it has
a variable ballast of 1,150 pounds. The vehicle is
equipped with a sonar for navigation and a camera for
close-in inspection. It also can be launched from a ship
by crane or well-deck.
“In the manned mode, the maximum working depth
is 150 feet,” said Ross Lindman, vice president of Undersea Solutions, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls
Industries, in which he is a director. “In the unmanned
mode, it will go to 200 feet. It’s not a deep vehicle. This
is a big undersea truck or a bus.
“One of the unique things about it is that, in one
mission, you can run different parts of it manned and,
in some parts of it, unmanned,” Lindman said. “As a
UUV, it has a whole portfolio of mission-specific be-
haviors built into the autonomy.”
In manned mode, while the pilot navigates the Pro-
teus, the co-pilot “is watching the sonar for obstacle
avoidance, handles communications, changes in ballast
while the pilot is focused on the navigation and flying,”
he said. “It’s a lot like flying an airplane because you’re in
3D space. The pilot has at his disposal a whole set of
autopilots that he can engage at any time. One of those
is a hovering mode that this vehicle, because it has
thrusters — fore and aft, both horizontal and vertical —
it is able to hover and that is very useful for payload
delivery for a number of different missions.”
Partnered with Undersea Solutions is Battelle, which
provides the batteries, and Bluefin, Battelle’s subsidiary,
which provides the navigation and autonomy systems
that were adapted from the company’s Bluefin- 21 UUV.
Battelle’s batteries are made with lithium polymer,
which, unlike lithium ion types, are not flammable.
With these batteries, the Proteus can cover more than
350 miles or, if more batteries are added in the cargo
space, out to 900 miles. The Proteus, as currently configured, must be out of the water to charge the batteries, but could be modified to be charged underwater.
Retired RADM Fred Byus, general manager of
Battelle’s Maritime Systems unit, called the battery system for Proteus a “technology leap.”
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 36 SEAPOWER / JUNE 2015
The Proteus is a large, free-flooding mini-sub that is unique in that it can be operated as a swimmer-delivery vehicle
manned vehicle or as an unmanned vehicle. It can be launched from a submarine with an extended Dry Deck Shelter.
Proteus was on display at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Md., in April.