WASHINGTON --- The Naval Sea Systems Command successfully completed training the first group of sailors in the operation and maintenance of the Sea Glider unmanned undersea vessel as part of the Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance system, NAVSEA announced July 25.
Sea Glider is an autonomous vehicle that propels itself from the water's surface to the ocean floor, collecting environmental data. The vessels are being tested as a component of the Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance (PLUS) prototype system, which is designed to detect underwater threats, such as diesel submarines, and is being fielded by the Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS).
"This milestone is an important step toward fulfilling the PLUS mission of providing effective, adaptive and persistent surveillance of multiple quiet targets over large littoral areas - a powerful trump card for ensuring the safety of global waterways," said Capt. Duane Ashton, program manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems within PEO LCS.
The prototype PLUS system consists of an undersea network of five sea gliders and six Remus 600 UUVs. The Remus 600 UUVs - large, autonomous vessels with long underwater dwell times - act as deep sea sensors. The sea gliders dive underwater to collect the Remus' data, then return to the surface to transmit that data to a shore-based collection and processing station.
The University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, where the Sea Glider is produced, conducted the training. Over the course of a week, students from Submarine Development Squadron 5 were introduced to the vehicle, presented with a description of its component characteristics, and familiarized with its field and command center operations in PLUS-specific contexts.
"The comprehensive curriculum covered hands-on assembly and testing, launch preparation, launch, piloting, recovery, breakdown, and wash-down," Ashton said. After completing the course, the sailors provided feedback for enhancing course format and materials. As a result, future course sessions are expected to accommodate six students over four days, Ashton said.
Testing will continue on the system until early 2015, when the Navy plans to deploy the system for overseas operations as a user operational evaluation system. It is designed to easily deploy from any ship with a winch and crane and sufficient storage capacity. A decision on which ship will deploy with the system will be made in the coming months.
Depending on the outcome of the testing, The Navy will determine the feasibility of expanding the scope of this pilot system for broader deployment to the fleet.
PEO LCS is affiliated with Naval Sea Systems Command, and provides a single program executive responsible for acquiring and sustaining mission capabilities of the littoral combat ship class, beginning with procurement and ending with fleet employment and sustainment. The combined capability of LCS and LCS mission systems is designed to dominate the littoral battle space and provide U. S. forces with assured access to coastal areas.