Designed to combat below-the-surface terrorism, Sea Wasp is the latest generation remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from defense and security company Saab.
Presented at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Md., Sea Wasp has been engineered to relocate, identify and neutralize underwater improvised explosive devices (IEDs). While most underwater IED threats are disposed of manually by trained explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) divers, Sea Wasp is operated remotely by two-person teams from the surface, allowing operators to keep a safe distance from the explosives.
To produce Sea Wasp, Saab leveraged technology from its Saab Seaeye line of commercial ROVs, added capabilities previously developed for its military systems portfolio and worked with the U.S. Underwater Hazardous Device Response Community to adopt the ROV for EOD purposes and procedures.
“Sea Wasp is a hybrid of preexisting Saab technologies that can now be applied to an urgent worldwide need,” explained Bert Johansson, Sales Director Underwater Systems within Saab business area Dynamics. “Underwater EOD is a rapidly growing niche around the world, and Sea Wasp’s capabilities correspond to that niche.”
“The U.S. unmanned underwater vehicle market is very important for Saab,” said Jon Kaufmann, Vice President of Naval Programs with Saab North America. “Our goal with Sea Wasp is to meet U.S. national security needs with an underwater, anti-IED device that keeps EOD teams safe.”
Designed with mobility in mind, the Sea Wasp is a portable system that includes a vehicle, generator, pilot station, hand winch and power supply unit.
The modular system carries a sensor suite including wideband sonar, LED lights and video cameras for operation and identification capabilities in areas with limited visibility; however additional sensors can be fitted. Sea Wasp’s basic configuration can be altered during the mission planning stage to suit each specific mission with the integration of relevant payloads to create a tailored system. This interchange of parts ensures easy configuration upgrades. Modularity is at the very heart of the Sea Wasp concept, and Saab is working with its partners to build additional capabilities into the system as the underwater terrorist threat evolves.
Sea Wasp’s onboard Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) and Internal Measurement Unit (IMU) deliver navigational capability, allowing it to maneuver between specific waypoints. The vehicle incorporates Saab Seaeye’s iCON intelligent control system, and is modeled on Saab’s Double Eagle family of MCM vehicles, to give six degrees of freedom for ultimate maneuverability. Its six thrusters deliver enough power to be effective in up to 2.5 knots of current, allowing the Sea Wasp to hover when processing a target or to secure itself to structures such as a ship’s hull or harbor walls.
Although designed to operate in the difficult shallow conditions and tidal currents of harbors, the ROV has a maximum operating depth of 60 meters, as IEDs vary significantly in form and design, and consequently, tools to counter the threat need to be diverse.
Sea Wasp is fitted with an electrical five-function manipulator arm, giving the operator the flexibility to deploy a range of tools and techniques for Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) and EOD, depending on the scenario.
The ROV is used to locate targets, identify the nature of the threat and determine the best method for disposal. When the vehicle is ready, the operator uses Sea Wasp’s thrusters to lock into position on a ship’s hull or harbor wall. With the aid of the five-function manipulator arm, a disruptor can be positioned beside the target, ready for detonation. The Sea Wasp is then piloted back to the surface for recovery, after which the disruptor is fired from the surface and the target neutralized.
Sea Wasp testing and evaluation is now being carried out over the next 10 to 12 months, for which Saab has partnered with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) in to provide prototypes to three EOD agencies: the U.S. Navy EOD Group 2, the FBI Counter-IED Unit, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s Counter-Terrorist Operations Maritime Response Unit, all three of which have received Sea Wasp training.
Length: 1.7 m
Width: 0.5 m
Height: 0.4 m
Weight in air: <90 kg
Weight in water: Slightly buoyant, adjustable
Operational depth: 60 m
Operational current: 2.5 knots
Vehicle control: 6 degrees of freedom, Saab iCON 2, auto depth, altitude, station keeping, obstacle avoidance, way point navigation
Navigation sensors: IMU, DVL with integrated compass
Sonar: Multibeam forward looking sonar, other types of sonar available on request
Cameras: 1 x color pan tilt on ROV with 2 x optical zoom, 1 x color on manipulator arm
Tether: 160 m power and fibre optic
Power supply: 180–260 VAC Single phase 47−63 Hz, primary power demands max 32 A, auxiliary power demands max 16 A
Manipulator arm: ECA electrical five-function manipulator arm