First US Navy Submarine Will Deploy With New UUV Capability This Year

World Defense

First US Navy Submarine Will Deploy With New UUV Capability This Year

This year marks a significant milestone in naval warfare as the USS Delaware, a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, gears up to deploy with an advanced unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) capability. This development is set to transform the operational dynamics of the U.S. Navy's submarine force.

Historically, submarines have utilized UUVs, but the new "torpedo tube launch and recovery" (TTL&R) method simplifies the deployment and retrieval process. This method was successfully tested with the REMUS 600 UUV, which was launched and recovered through Delaware’s torpedo tube in late 2023. This capability eliminates the need for cumbersome procedures involving drydeck shelters and divers, allowing for more efficient and widespread use of UUVs across the submarine fleet.

Vice Admiral Rob Gaucher, Commander of Submarine Forces, emphasized the importance of this development at the Naval Leaders’ Combined Naval Event 2024 in Farnborough, UK. He announced that the USS Delaware would start installing the UUV system shortly and is expected to deploy with this capability by the end of the year. This move is part of a broader strategy to enhance the submarine force’s operational reach and adaptability in the undersea domain.

The USS Delaware, commissioned in April 2020, is a Block III Virginia-class submarine, known for its advanced stealth, intelligence gathering, and attack capabilities. The integration of the REMUS 600 UUV into its arsenal represents a leap forward in underwater reconnaissance and combat operations.

The REMUS 600 is not just any underwater drone; it is equipped to perform a variety of missions including mine countermeasures, harbor security, and search and salvage operations. Its deployment from a submarine adds a new layer of stealth and surprise to these missions, enhancing the U.S. Navy's ability to operate in contested waters without detection.

The recent successful tests, codenamed "Yellow Moray," showcased the practical application of TTL&R. During these tests, the REMUS 600 was efficiently launched and recovered, demonstrating the system's reliability and operational potential. This marks the second successful TTL&R test, with the first occurring in the Pacific earlier that same month.

As the Delaware prepares for its deployment, the U.S. Navy plans to conduct various exercises and operational trials to maximize the utility of the UUV capability. These exercises will not only refine the deployment procedures but also explore new mission profiles that can be supported by the UUVs, ranging from surveillance to complex seabed operations.

In conclusion, the introduction of TTL&R capabilities on the USS Delaware signifies a transformative step in undersea warfare. By enhancing the operational flexibility and reach of submarines, the U.S. Navy is setting the stage for more sophisticated and effective undersea operations, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of naval innovation and combat readiness.

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