The U.S. Navy has awarded Hydroid, Inc., a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, with a contract extension worth $52.3 million for the MK 18 family of Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) systems, sometimes known as underwater drones.
This modification is to provide additional fleet fielded assets, to provide expanded capacity. This modification will allow procurement of additional MK 18 Systems, individual UUVs to replace lost or damaged items, and parts kits needed to support repairs at the organizational level.
“Without these supplies, the fielded systems cannot be maintained in a fully functional condition, and may be unavailable and unable to meet the mission requirements placed upon them,” the Navy message states.
Work will be performed in Pocasset, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by April 2024.
The Navy officials also added that this contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to $100 million, from previously $48 million.
MK 18 system consists of Hydroid UUVs and associated auxiliary equipment. These UUVs can be used singularly, or in groups to search in the enemy rear areas for threat objects.
MK 18 underwater drone can dive to depths of up to 6,000 meters and explore shallow waters to hover in hazardous areas where navigation is difficult. These unmanned marine vehicles have reduced the high costs of ocean exploration and sampling while increasing the availability of quality scientific marine data.
The company’s website said the underwater vehicle involved with undersea mine countermeasures have helped save lives by eliminating human divers from minefields. These customizable vehicles have helped solve plane and ship disaster mysteries, including locating wreckage such as Air France Flight 447 and generating 3-D mapping of the Titanic.