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Navy Deploying Unmanned Gliders from Destroyers to Help ASW Mission

Ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) sail in formation in 2012. US Navy Photo

Ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 (DESRON 15) sail in formation in 2012. US Navy Photo

The Navy is set to deploy unmanned buoyancy gliders from its guided missile destroyers in an effort to expand its anti-submarine warfare edge.

The service has used the gliders – that use wave action to travel under the water to record information like water temperature and pressure – to build complex models of the ocean depths the service uses as part of its ASW and mine warfare efforts.

While the service has more than a hundred of the gliders that can transmit data back for more than a month at a time, the service has been limited in the platforms it can deploy the gliders from, Oceanographer of the Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet said last month during an AUVSI conference in Washington, D.C.

lbs_glider“Right now I have six oceanographic survey ships but I’m working with my network of partners to expand that so I’ll go from having 14 in the water in different oceans and hopefully dozens,” Gallaudet said.
“I’d like to get my whole inventory in the water if I could, that’s our goal.”

Naval Sea Systems Command recently approved the deployment of up to two of the gliders from Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers that will not only help get more gliders in the water but also provide the ships with real-time information for the crew. The office worked with Destroyer Squadron 15 in the Pacific to test the concept and looking to expand.

“I’m expecting to push more of these out to the different theaters this year, with that authorization,” he said.

The benefit of having the gliders operate from the destroyers are not only increasing the volume of data coming into the service as a whole, but it also provides information to local units.

“It puts gliders in the same battlespace that the fleet is conducting antisubmarine warfare (ASW), giving them an undersea advantage over an adversary by collecting oceanographic measurements that greatly improve ocean and acoustic models,” he said in a statement provided to USNI News.
“The data is available to the ship’s crew as well as transmitted several times per day to the Naval Oceanographic Office, where it is used to update high-resolution oceanographic models that are applied to directly support naval assets conducting a broad range of operations, including not only ASW, but mine warfare and naval special warfare.”

  • tpicciuti

    Great advantage in the battle space for the Navy, The key is keeping the data secure.

  • Tom

    These gliders do not use wave action to travel under the water.

    • Brian

      I agree. When they call them buoyancy gliders, I assume they change their buoyancy to be more or less buoyant than seawater to glide up or glide down as appropriate. The PowerPoint slide shows a vertical zig-zag pattern for one thing. That would give the propulsion system great efficiency, endurance and be extremely quiet. Fish probably make more noise.

  • Secundius

    What “Little” I could Find Out, Maximum Operating Depth is 1,000-meters with a Crush Depth of ~3,500-meters. And Use the Thermals of the Oceans just like an Aerial Glider…

  • NavySubNuke

    Great idea – especially if we can figure out a way to launch them from a P-8 or a helo so that they can be dropped in advance of the battlegroup even getting to the area.

    • Secundius

      All the Pictures I’ve seen of the System, suggests that they Can’t Be Air Launched and/or Dropped. That they have to be Physically Released near the water. Probably Boat Launched, or something like the New “Sea Hunter”. Under consideration by the US Navy as an Autonomous Sub Hunter…

      • NavySubNuke

        That would be why I said “especially if we can” —- if we could already launch them that way we wouldn’t need to figure out how to launch them that way.
        Also, just because we can’t launch them that way today doesn’t mean we will never be able to do so.

        • Secundius

          Tube Launching like a Sonobuoy would be Impossible because the Vertical Stabilizer (Rudder) at the Rear “Doesn’t” Retract. And most likely a Low Velocity Impact with the Water (aka Parachute style). The Body or Fuselage appears it be Fiberglass or Some Other Pressure Resistant Polymer, which would make a Huge Cost Savings in Mass Production and Lossage in Damage or other Accidental Destruction…

          • NavySubNuke

            The challenges associated with airborne deployment of gliders like these are engineering challenges – not science and technology challenges.

  • Secundius

    Nothing “Inflammatory” in my Comment! And YET USNI News decides to Redact it Anyway. Great Work USNI News…