SeaFox: A quicker, cheaper, safer mine-hunting capability

Representatives from 41 nations have gathered in the Arabian Gulf for International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2013, a training exercise on how to keep the seas free of mines.

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By Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Gleason 
Executive Officer, MCM Crew Reaper

Mine hunting is the mission. Identification and neutralization is the method. Maintaining open, safe sea lanes is the goal. In the past, these tasks were accomplished by explosive ordnance disposal divers or the antiquated SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization Vehicle. While these units fit the bill and accomplished the mission, the Navy is always looking to complete tasks and missions quicker, cheaper and safer.

Enter the SLQ-60 SeaFox Mine Neutralization System.

Sailors aboard the mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11) launch a SeaFox mine hunting unmanned underwater vehicle in support of International Mine Countermeasure Exercise, May 14, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Colby Drake/Released)

Sailors aboard the mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM 11) launch a SeaFox mine hunting unmanned underwater vehicle in support of International Mine Countermeasure Exercise, May 14, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Colby Drake/Released)

Using cues from a ship’s sonar, the investigation variant of SeaFox can identify possible mines with its onboard sonar and camera, feeding live data via fiber optics to a display in the Combat Information Center. That information is then compared to the ship’s variable depth sonar sweep of the area to determine if the unmanned undersea vehicle and ship’s sonar operator are looking at the same object. This entire process can be accomplished in 10 to 12 minutes – much quicker than employing a dive team or using the legacy mine neutralization vehicle.

If a mine is visually identified, a combat round can be prepared to destroy the threat.  This one-shot solution to neutralize a mine threat is safer than deploying divers.

As a mine countermeasures executive officer, I can say that having SeaFox aboard adds a more robust hunting capability to our innate sweeping capability. SeaFox is a very capable system that my crew and I are proud to train with and have aboard.

Originally posted here – 

SeaFox: A quicker, cheaper, safer mine-hunting capability