With Australia looking to acquire two new advanced mine hunters under the Project SEA 1905 Maritime Mine Countermeasures Program, Naval Group is set to pitch the same capability it is supplying to Belgium and the Netherlands,
Each of these countries is acquiring six new vessels to replace two older mine hunters, along with the mine hunting toolbox – a system of unmanned surface vessels and towed and autonomous submersibles.
Naval Group head of marketing for surface vessels Herve Boy said mines posed a real threat. “It’s not just former mines from the Second World War,” he said. “This program is based on the ECA and Naval Group experience in mine warfare and the cooperation between these two companies on this topic.”
The parent vessel is a 82-metre, 2800-tonne ship able to steam for long distances and deploy a range of capabilities including a pair of Inspector unmanned surface vessels from which can be launched autonomous underwater vessels to search for mines. Any mines detected can be destroyed by a “kamikaze” underwater vessel.
During the election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Navy would acquire two new advanced mine hunters under SEA 1905, plus a new hydrographic vessel under the Project SEA 2400 Hydrographic Data Collection Capability program.
Mr Boy said Naval Group needed to know the actual Australian requirement. “So far there is no requirement somewhere else,” he said. “But if there is a requirement in Australia, for example, we will be ready to answer it on the basis of this program.”
Construction of the first ship for Belgium will start in France in 2021, with the first vessel delivered in 2024, with subsequent vessels delivered every six months.
Each vessel incorporates a Launch and Recovery System (LARS) for ECA Group’s INSPECTOR 125 unmanned surface vehicles which can be launched in sea conditions up to sea state four.
Embarked drones include the A18-M autonomous underwater vehicle, T18-M towed sonars and Mine Identification and Destruction Systems (MIDS) composed of SEASCAN and KSTER-C remotely operated vehicles (ROV).
All these drones can be operated autonomously from the USV INSPECTOR 125.