NATO Research Vessel Alliance Conducts Underwater Robot Research

June 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
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A NATO coalition of scientists and researchers recently experimented with a variety of underwater robots in a joint scientific mine countermeasures sea trial. The May 20-29 experiment involved NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), the Royal Netherlands Navy Defence Diving Group, NATO’s Naval Mine Warfare Centre of Excellence and the United Kingdom Royal Navy Maritime Autonomous Systems Trial Team.

The North Sea Mine Countermeasures Experiment 2015 sea trial took place near the coast of Ostend, Belgium. For the first time, the NATO research vessel Alliance, a 93-meter 3,180-ton open-ocean ship, operated in the Belgian waters for a successful sea trial developed by the CMRE and the rest of the scientific coalition. The experiment exercised state-of-the-art, high-resolution underwater acoustic imaging systems and adaptive vehicle behaviors using different autonomous underwater vehicles to assess the performance of different sonar systems and enhance interoperability and collaboration in the field.

The experiment included simultaneous underwater robot surveys in the North Sea, an environment characterized by strong currents and complex sea floors. The results will offer lessons learned on the use of unmanned systems in mine countermeasures and in a variety of environments. Initial results are being presented today at the Naval Mine Warfare Center of Excellence.

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