US Navy unveils new combat diver navigation module

The US Naval Surface Warfare Centre – Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), teamed with JFD to develop an advanced combat diver navigation module called Shadow NAV.

According to JFD, the device brings a hands-free underwater navigation capability to the military market for the first time.

Military combat divers frequently conduct underwater navigation missions in hazardous conditions with extremely poor visibility. Critical to the success of these missions is accurate underwater navigation, as well as staying within closed circuit oxygen rebreather depth limits to prevent oxygen toxicity, which can cause significant health risks to the diver. However, current handheld or tactical swim board mounted compasses, depth gauges, and chronometers are obsolete in a zero-visibility environment; an ongoing issue, which, to date has created serious limitations to military combat diving operations. The Shadow NAV addresses the issue by ensuring the divers have continual visibility of accurate information.

The Shadow NAV is fitted to a diver’s standard half mask and provides a clear visual display of a combat diver’s compass heading, depth, and time even in near-zero visibility conditions. Through using a mask-mounted head-up display, combat divers are not restricted by the poor visibility mission environment and may not require carrying a tactical swim board.

“Traditional kit such as the compass and depth gauges not only increases the amount of equipment required, but, more critically, they are of little, or no use in water with very limited visibility, even with auxiliary illumination. This puts the diver at too great a risk of injury or even fatality,” Danny Gray, products & support director at JFD, commented. “To address these challenges for potentially dangerous underwater combat missions, the expert technical team S3D at the NSWC PCD worked to develop a small, low-cost, low-power enhanced navigation capability to significantly improve safety standards for military divers and give them the best possible chance of successfully completing their missions.”

JFD also noted that it will be able to offer the Shadow NAV technology to the commercial diving industry.