Unmanned mine-sweeping and surveying boats developed by Atlas Elektronik UK have been officially handed over to the UK Royal Navy and will soon be on frontline duties.
ARCIMS, as the unmanned surface vessel is known, is scheduled to start live operations from March, according to the navy.
Sailors trained in this of type mission will be stationed at HMNB Clyde, where the remotely operated kit, including submersibles and boats designed to hunt down mines but also analyse the oceans and sea floor, will be deployed from.
Commodore Mike Knott, assistant chief of staff Maritime Capability, said: “With equipment and personnel now operating on the Clyde, the transition to widespread use of autonomous systems in mine counter measures (MCM) is becoming a reality and places the Royal Navy MCM community at the cutting edge.”
Initial operations are now being carried out by Project Wilton, the name for the Royal Navy’s unmanned mine hunting and survey endeavours.
Wilton currently have three boats – two remote controlled and the other manned – as well as multiple underwater vehicles.
This kit will supplement the Royal Navy’s current mine hunting missions carried out by the mine countermeasures ships of the Hunt and Sandown classes.
Also referred to as “Hussar” by the Royal Navy, the 11-meter-long ‘mother ship’ is followed by the sweeping system, a series of small ‘coil auxiliary boats’ or CABs.
The CABs are designed to replicate ship signatures to trigger the mines – and use lessons learned from IED blasts on vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan to deflect and dissipate any resultant blast so that damage is minimal.
The work builds on the ongoing trials of unmanned and autonomous technology carried out by the Royal Navy, Defence Equipment and Support and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.