NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC) in Italy conducted the CATHARSIS2 sea trial from October 5-20 in the waters near Elba Island, Italy to investigate underwater object detection technologies. On October 20, harbour security demonstration for local military and civilian authorities was conducted at La Spezia, Italy. For the first time, U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Fleet Systems participated in these exercises.
Some interesting features of U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Systems (MMS), NURC and CATHARSIS2 sea trial are:
- U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Fleet Systems
- Assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group ONE (EODGRU ONE).
- Uses dolphins and sea lions to find and mark the location of underwater objects.
- Dolphins with their exceptional biological sonar can detect objects in the water column and on the sea floor.
- Sea lions have very sensitive underwater directional hearing and exceptional vision in low light conditions.
- MMS MK 4, MK 7 and MK 8 use dolphins.
- MMS MK 5 uses sea lions.
- MMS MK 6 uses both dolphins and sea lions.
- MMS can be deployed rapidly within 72 hours of notice through ship, aircraft, helicopter, and land vehicles anywhere in the world and they regularly participate in major Fleet exercises.
- NURC’s research is currently focused on:
- Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures and Port Protection (EMP)
- Undersea Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Networks (RSN)
- Expeditionary Operations Support (EOS)
- Command and Operation Support (COS)
- CATHARSIS2 sea trial and harbour security demonstration
- Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) equipped with advanced sensors to detect and locate dummy mines (with no explosives) were used in this exercise to assess the best strategy in the use of AUVs to detect objects under water.
- Five sea lions and their trainers of MMS MK 5 were flown from their home base in California to join the exercise. The sea lions have the skill to recover a variety of objects, including dummy mines, by attaching a recovery line to the object, as well as carrying a video camera to determine the type of object and how it is laying on the bottom.
- MMS MK 5 was successful in detecting underwater objects and underwater intruders during the harbour security demonstration.
Read more from NURC: From Unmanned Vehicles to Sea Lions – Tools for Harbour Security on Display at NURC.
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