In partnership with the U.S. Combat Terrorism Technical Support Organization (CTTSO), Saab has provided three U.S. EOD agencies with prototypes of Sea Wasp, the company's new, ground-breaking remotely operated vehicle (ROV) designed for countering underwater improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In January 2016, representatives of those agencies – the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2, the FBI Counter-IED Unit, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's Counter-Terrorist Operations Maritime Response Unit – met with a team of Saab employees from the United States, Sweden and the UK for four days of Sea Wasp training in Charleston, South Carolina.
Developed over 18 months with the U.S. Underwater Hazardous Device Team, the Sea Wasp is designed for operation by a two-man team. It 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 harbour wall. With the aid of the five-function manipulator arm, a disruptor can be positioned beside the target, ready for detonation. The vehicle is then piloted back to the surface for recovery, after which the disruptor is fired from the surface and the target neutralised.
The Sea Wasp's exceptional maneuverability is ideal for the challenging environment of U.S. harbors, making the Charleston Law Enforcement Training Center's waterside location a perfect training setting. After some preliminary training in the local swimming pool, the Wasps demonstrated their full range of capabilities in the nearby river. The Saab team provided training on how to "fly" the vehicles and operate the various tools and sensors with which they are fitted. Participants were also taught how to fault find and conduct routine maintenance.
Overall, the participants were impressed by the vehicles' performance, particularly at this early stage. They quickly familiarized themselves with the controls, and were able to tackle the most challenging tasks. At this rate, the Sea Wasp appears to be headed for success in the ROV market.
The three EOD agencies will carry out testing and evaluation of the Sea Wasp over the next 10 to 12 months.