Owned by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) Atlantic and built by ISE, Dorado is a semi-submersible autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that tows a sonar towfish fitted with a multibeam sidescan sonar to depths of 200 meters at speeds up to 10 knots. Since the vehicle has a surface piercing mast, it is able to operate and transmit sonar data over a high bandwidth radio data link rather than an acoustic telemetry link. This permits real time data transfer at standoff ranges of up to 8 km from the mine countermeasures vessel as well as use of DGPS feed for accurate target positioning – these significant advantages are not possible from tethered drones or fully submerged UUVs."
Participation at Mongoose 07/AUV Fest was through The Technical Cooperation Program. The aim of the activity was to bring various nations’ MCM unmanned systems together in order to investigate the capabilities of interoperability in MCM operations. "Our role in this trial is to conduct a wide area sonar survey for follow-on investigation by other AUVs, as well as investigate some new modes of communication to reduce the detection-to-classification timeline", says Lt(N) Chad Naefken, the Canadian Naval officer-in-charge of the operating team. Dorado fulfilled the research objectives, and not without two unexpected challenges.
With its support ship “Brooks McCall” as well as the Canadian Navy’s high-speed RHIB, Dorado’s first challenge was a squall off the Gulf Coast with up to 70 knots of winds, rain, hail and lightning. Damage to the surface craft was minimal, and the Dorado carried on with its mission undaunted as the storm passed. The other challenge was the crowded RF spectrum radiating from military and civilian sources in the area. This was overcome by the redundant RF telemetry consisting of UHF and ISM (5800 MHZ) band communications links.
Based in British Columbia, Canada, ISE has been involved in the design and development of autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles for over 30 years. Working with North American and International customers, ISE’s experience is represented by the over 210 underwater vehicles, 26 of which are AUVs, built and delivered to clients in 20 countries.
Under agreement with ISE and the DND, the French defence shipbuilder DCN develops and sells a mine-hunting system known as SeaKeeper. This system incorporates the CRMS vehicle and towfish.