Military Embedded Systems

UUVs ordered by Britain's navy intended to work in tandem with manned subs


December 05, 2022

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Image: U.K. Ministry of Defense

PORTSMOUTH, U.K. Britain's navy has announced that it will field what it says will be the largest and most complex unmanned submarine operated by a European navy; the goal, say officials, is for the uncrewed submarine to work side-by-side with traditional crewed submarines or independently. 

The £15.4 million ($18.9 million) contract for the small unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) was won by M Subs, a small specialist underwater vehicle UUV maker based in Plymouth. M Subs expects to deliver the unmanned systems -- dubbed "Cetus" after a mythological sea monster -- in the next two years. 

In the announcement, Royal Navy officials noted that the 17-metric-ton (37478.6-ton) UUV can fit inside a shipping container, as it is 12 meters (13.12 yards) long and 2.2 meters (2.41 yards) in diameter, able to be transported around the world wherever the fleet needs it. They added that the unarmed battery-powered craft will be able to dive deeper than any vessel in the current submarine fleet and cover up to 1,000 miles in a single mission.

The announcement said that the Cetus UUVs would be used for monitoring hostile activity in the ocean, listening for ships or submarines that could pose a threat either to the navy's fleet or to key national infrastructure such as deep-sea cables and pipelines. 

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