Saab ROV Supplied to Spanish Navy for Submarine Escape & Rescue

The Seaeye Leopard can locate and survey a distressed submarine using its array of sonar systems and cameras By Mike Ball / 24 Apr 2023
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Saab has confirmed that it has provided its Seaeye Leopard ROV (remotely operated vehicle) system to the Spanish Navy for submarine escape and rescue, and underwater intervention. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) acquired the Seaeye Leopard to fulfil the responsibilities of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office and provide diving support.

This acquisition marks the first codification by NATO for a remotely operated vehicle meeting their standards. The Leopard also met the Spanish Navy’s full ISO/IEE 15288 standards for remotely operated vehicles, along with their standards for the control cabin.

The Leopard can locate and survey a distressed submarine, using its array of sonar systems and cameras to provide both colour zoom and low-light black and white video images for rescue planners. In urgent rescue situations the Leopard can work tirelessly 24 hours a day, for days on end in challenging conditions.

According to the information provided by the Spanish Navy through NSPA, the Leopard will also contribute enormously to the Spanish Navy underwater intervention capability, especially in the areas of salvage operations, underwater search and reconnaissance and diving support activities.

To help keep the crew alive, the Seaeye Leopard can transport and insert pods carrying emergency life support stores into the submarine – and attach ventilation hoses. For debris clearance the Leopard has powerful work-class manipulators, along with a six-inch rotary disc cutter and a 38mm anvil cutter.

The complete package includes a tether management system which acts as a subsea garage for the Leopard and from which it is flown when reaching the operational depth. The Leopard was chosen over its hydraulic alternative as the Leopard is typically 50% more efficient, 30% more compact and 50% lighter than an equivalent hydraulic vehicle. Umbilical cables and handling systems are also significantly smaller and lighter, leading to lower deck loading requirements, smaller deck footprints, smaller vessel requirements and smaller transportation needs.

The most powerful ROV of its size in the world, the Seaeye Leopard has 11 powerful thrusters and with its iCON intelligent control is more highly manoeuvrable in strong currents than a hydraulic vehicle and, being acoustically quieter, can produce more accurate sonar data. The system is in the process of being certified for air transportation aboard an Airbus A400M to fulfil a global role in rescue operations.

Saab Seaeye’s intelligent control system offers pilots better handling characteristics – including pitch and roll stabilisation – for best quality survey data, whilst delivering stable flight even when fitted with large tools and transporting heavy loads. Importantly, iCON gives clear and enhanced information to the operator and pilot whilst independently managing each device on the vehicle, including auto redundancy, ensuring the vehicle keeps working even with multiple equipment damage.

Included in the procurement is a complete simulator system for pilot training that will simulate the operation of the Leopard during a rescue mission.

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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