Untethered, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for Ocean Exploration and Long-Endurance Missions

HII Demonstrates Launch & Recovery of LDUUVs with Amphibious Ships

The launch and recovery demonstration was carried out using a prototype platform called Pharos and HII’s Proteus Large-Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) By Phoebe Grinter / 17 Jun 2022

HII has announced the successful demonstration of capabilities that allow HII-built amphibious warships to launch, operate and recover HII-built Large-Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (LDUUVs).

The research and development initiative between HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding and Mission Technologies divisions is among a portfolio of corporate led and funded internal research and development efforts aimed at advancing mission-critical technology solutions in support of HII’s national security customers.

“HII is committed to advancing the future of distributed maritime operations and demonstrating our capability to support unmanned vehicles on amphibious ships,” said Kari Wilkinson, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, which hosted and partnered in the demonstration. “I am very proud of our team’s initiative to strengthen the flexibility of the ships we build by anticipating the challenges and opportunities that exist for our customers.”

“This is a great example of how HII can leverage expertise across divisions to develop unique solutions for customers,” said Andy Green, president of Mission Technologies. “HII is focused on growing critical enabling technologies, like unmanned systems and AI/ML data analytics, to help further enhance the capabilities of our national security platforms.”

HII-built San Antonio-class amphibious warships have unique well decks that can be flooded to launch and recover various maritime platforms. The US Navy has previously demonstrated the ability to recover space craft from the amphibious warship well deck.

The launch and recovery demonstration was carried out by HII’s Advanced Technology Group using a prototype platform called Pharos and HII’s Proteus LDUUV. The demonstration took place along the Pascagoula River in Mississippi.

The demonstration involved having the LDUUV approach and be captured by the Pharos cradle, while Pharos was being towed behind a small craft that simulated an amphibious ship at low speed. 

Pharos was put in a tow position, then using a remote control, it was ballasted down in the trailing position allowing the LDUUV to navigate into Pharos. 

Once the unmanned vehicle was captured, Pharos was deballasted back up into a recovery and transport position. The demonstration also included ballasting down to launch the LDUUV after the capture.

HII’s Pharos prototype platform being towed behind a small craft in the Pascagoula River while recovering HII’s Proteus LDUUV during a demonstration
HII’s Pharos prototype platform being towed behind a small craft in the Pascagoula River while recovering HII’s Proteus LDUUV during a demonstration

Pharos is outfitted with heavy duty wheels to allow its transport maneuverability within the well deck of an amphibious ship for stowage on the vehicle decks. Pharos can be rolled off the back of an amphibious ship while using the ship’s existing winch capabilities to extend and retract the platform from the well deck. The Pharos design is scalable and reconfigurable to fit various UUVs or Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs). 

The Pharos design was conducted by HII, and three main partners supported the development. The University of New Orleans, in conjunction with the Navy, performed the initial model testing, and the prototype device was fabricated by Metal Shark in Louisiana.

HII is currently exploring modifications for other UUVs and participating in live demonstrations with the fleet within the next year. HII will use results from the Pharos demonstration to further mature concepts and continue to develop innovative national security solutions.

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Posted by Phoebe Grinter Unmanned Systems Technology’s digital editor and copywriter Phoebe takes a fresh and enthusiastic approach to researching, writing and posting the latest unmanned technology updates, and in managing the UST social channels. Connect & Contact