AUV Employment in Naval Mine Warfare

A window of opportunity for future Naval Mine Counter Measures.

The rapid developments on the Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) market have caused a sudden and heterogeneous acquisition of AUV technology by several Navies. In this context, the Italian Navy has requested the COE CSW produce a comprehensive study about the Employment of AUVs in naval Mine-Countermeasure (MCM) Operations aiming at providing valuable impulses for the Concept and Doctrine development.

In fact the use of AUV in MCM operations is already a reality. Navies are regarding Unmanned Systems, AUVs in particular, as assets that extend the capabilities of mine hunters and potentially replace dedicated MCM vessels in the future.

The COE CSW reached out to the Naval Mine Warfare COE in Oostende/BEL which welcomed the opportunity to conduct the study in a cooperative manner. Furthermore, leading development partners from industry, the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), the Polish Naval Academy, the Syracuse University in Florence and the Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research(WTD 71), are involved to discuss available AUV types on the market and future AUV developments.

The study highlights the importance of employing AUVs for MCM Operations either in support of mine hunters or working autonomously launched from a platform afloat or ashore.

The project takes a specific look at NATO requirements as well as the chances and risks of AUVs in MCM operations. Also, legal implications and operational effects caused by the employment of different AUV types in multinational operations will be addressed.

There are many challenging questions investigated in this very interesting project; two of which are definitely key issues: First “Will this technology reduce the imminent risk to life or health by keeping manned assets outside minefields?”, and second “Are AUVs offering an opportunity for saving costs?”

The actual smallest NMCM AUV
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