Sonardyne is aiming to improve the safety and efficiency of naval mine counter measures (MCM), explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and demolition operations, with the introduction of a secure, wireless underwater initiation capability.
The company’s new Initiation Transponder 6 (IT 6) is designed to be connected directly to a remotely deployed, non-electric mine neutralisation device, such as a Cobra MDS from ECS Special Projects. This allows EOD teams to send a wireless, acoustic command from their vessel, safely initiating a shock tube detonator. Recent demonstrations were conducted over distances in excess of 1,000 m away.
IT 6 is based on Sonardyne’s field-proven Wideband 2 digital signal technology, which offers a reliable and long-range underwater wireless communications link. The development of IT 6 means that service personnel no longer need to hard wire mine neutralisers up to signal relay buoys on the surface and are not restricted to good weather and daylight for setting up an initiation operation.
IT 6 is small, lightweight and designed to be placed by a clearance diver or remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for both high order detonation and low order deflagration. It features multiple layers of security to prevent unintended activation, including a hydrostatic switch, which only allows the unit to be armed when a pre-determined depth has been reached.
Operations using IT 6s are controlled using Sonardyne’s new rugged Deck Topside case and cabled dunker. Environmentally rated to IP67, the case features a daylight readable interactive 7-inch resistive touch screen and rechargeable battery, for when operating from small combat craft with no external power.
The user interface was designed in close co-operation with EOD technicians and enables operating parameters to be set and multiple IT 6s to be configured prior to deployment. During a live operation, two physical buttons provide an additional layer of security, requiring users to hold one button to arm, then simultaneously press the other to initiate.
The dunker, which is supplied with 10 m of cable, provides a secure two-way communications link between the surface and IT 6, and is simply lowered over the side of a vessel.
Tom Rooney, Defence Sales Manager at Sonardyne in the UK said; “Navies around the world are investing heavily in new technologies to support their diver and remotely controlled mission objectives, not least mine counter measures. IT 6 is one such technology and represents an important new addition to the MCM and other underwater ordnance playbooks.
“When clearance of both modern-day and historical sea mines is deemed necessary to maintain control of the underwater domain, IT 6 will help those involved with the hazardous task to operate safely, wirelessly and in any weather, day or night. Underwater acoustic command and control is a core Sonardyne capability, so IT 6 can be considered as reliable and as secure as traditional methods involving shock tubes and a lot safer than electrical detonation lines.”