US Navy Tests GhostSwimmer UUV

The U.S. Navy completed tests on the GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS), Dec. 11.

GhostSwimmer is the latest in a series of science-fiction-turned-reality projects developed by the chief of naval operations’ Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO.

Silent NEMO is an experiment that explores possible uses for biomimetic, unmanned underwater vehicles in the fleet.

Over the past several weeks, Boston Engineering’s tuna-sized device has been gathering data at JEBLC-FS on tides, varied currents, wakes, and weather conditions for the development of future tasks.

Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group, said:

GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success during more types of missions while keeping divers and Sailors safe.

The GhostSwimmer was developed to resemble the shape and mimic the swimming style of a large fish. At a length of approximately 5 feet and a weight of nearly 100 pounds, the GhostSwimmer vehicle can operate in water depths ranging from 10 inches to 300 feet.

Its bio-mimicry provides additional security during low visibility intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and friendly hull inspections, while quieter than propeller driven craft of the same size, according to Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC).

The robot is capable of operating autonomously for extended periods of time due to its long-lasting battery, but it can also be controlled via laptop with a 500-foot tether. The tether is long enough to transmit information while inspecting a ship’s hull, for example, but if operating independently (without a tether) the robot will have to periodically be brought to the surface to download its data.

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Press release, Image: US Navy

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