Taking Care of IED´s

In 2016, Swedish defence and security company Saab presented its newly developed Remotely Operated Vehicle, Sea Wasp, at the Navy League´s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland, USA. The vehicle, ground-breaking in many ways, is designed to replicate what the Land EOD Robot does; but in the confined areas and challenging environmental conditions of ports and harbors. A much needed capability for nations worldwide today.

The Sea Wasp, represents a significant change in underwater operations against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and similar threats by allowing bomb technicians to conduct underwater search and intervention for both improvised and conventional munitions. Designed to be operated by a small EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)/IEDD (Improvised Explosive Device Disposal) team – as few as two persons – the system can easily be configured to meet the specific requirements of any mission. Michael Berg, Head of Marketing and Sales at Underwater Systems within Saab´s Business Area Dynamics says that the demand for these kind of vehicles is increasing in response to the emerging underwater threats.

“Underwater EOD is a rapidly growing niche around the world, and our Sea Wasp’s capabilities correspond to that niche. We have worked very hard to develop a vehicle that can meet these threats effectively”.

Transportable over land in a light support vehicle, the Sea Wasp can be deployed from harbor walls or the beach. It can also be fitted to bespoke surface support vessels, and is flexible enough to be loaded into multiple varieties of boats, for example, rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) and work boats, depending on the mission requirements.

Combination of civil and military knowledge

Today, most underwater IED threats are disposed of manually by highly trained EOD divers. The Sea Wasp is operated remotely by two-person teams, allowing a safe distance between operator and IED. The standard Sea Wasp system carries a high-tech sensor suite that includes wideband sonar, LED lights and video cameras for target search and then identification in areas with limited visibility; however the system is able to carry additional sensors. To produce the Sea Wasp, Saab has leveraged technology from its Saab Seaeye line of commercial ROVs and added capabilities previously developed for its military systems portfolio. The company has worked with the U.S. Underwater Hazardous Device Response Community to incorporate the requirements of the EOD community. “The Sea Wasp is a hybrid of existing Saab technologies that can now be applied to an urgent worldwide need,” Michael Berg continues.

Sea Wasp’s onboard Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) and Internal Measurement Unit (IMU) deliver navigational capability, allowing it to record and transmit specific way points. The vehicle itself incorporates Saab Seaeye’s unique iCON intelligent control system, and is modelled on Saab’s Double Eagle family of MCM vehicles, to give six degrees of freedom for ultimate maneuverability.

“One of the things we have incorporated in the vehicle is a new Man Machine Interface (MMI) which makes control of the vehicle for the operator much easier. To that end the vehicle can hover in any attitude whilst the operator is able to deal with the target. It´s quite a clever vehicle since it is able to “fly” like an aeroplane and do underwater aerobatics. That means when you are trying to look for IED´s, bombs on the bottom of ships or in a harbor you are able to fly the vehicle around, this maneuverability allows the operator to get up close to the target and deal with it”, says Chris Lade, Defence Sales Manager, Saab Seaeye.

The Sea Wasp is piloted from the surface using a control console on-board the support vessel, or from a control vehicle ashore using a power-supplying, fibre optic tether. The operator employs Sea Wasp's powerful thrusters to lock into position on a ship's hull or harbor wall, and with the aid of the five-function manipulator arm, a disruptor can be positioned beside the target for subsequent firing or a weapon can be fired direct from the vehicle.