Feeds

US Navy SEALs' new airlock minisub - made in Blighty

Brit knowhow cracks 'exploding iPod' battery-inferno snag

Application security programs and practises

A groundbreaking new miniature submarine in use by the US Navy's secretive, elite frogman-commando special operations force was actually designed and built in old Blighty, the Reg can reveal.

We reported first on the S301 mini-sub two weeks ago, noting from federal documents that the famous US Navy SEALs had leased a demonstration model for "doctrinal, operational, and organizational purposes". This was followed up last week by the Honolulu Advertiser, which had spoken to Submergence Group, the American firm listed by the US government as provider of the S301.

It emerged that the S301 - now in trials with the SEALs in Hawaii - had cost just $10m to develop, which contrasted especially well with the $885m+ spent on the ill-fated Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS).

The S301 at its makers in Plymouth. Credit: MSubs

The stylish ride for today's more discerning frogman-commando. Needs to come in black, though.

The ASDS, from US defence behemoth Northrop Grumman, had been intended to supersede the SEALs' current Mark 8 Mod 1 minisubs, which are carried in a "Dry Deck Shelter" (DDS) airlock docking bay fitted to a full-sized US Navy nuclear submarine - either a normal attack boat or an Ohio-class dedicated Stingray-style special-ops mothership. The Ohios, nuclear missile subs retired from their old job under arms-reduction treaties, have space aboard for a large force of SEALs and pack a powerful armament of conventional-warhead cruise missiles for precision shore bombardment.

The trouble with the present Mark 8 minisubs is that their interiors are open to the sea and SEALs riding in them for long periods can be so chilled by the cold ocean as to be unable to carry out their mission once they are dropped off.

Hence the ASDS, a bigger battery sub with a dry interior, which was to replace the deck hangar and dock with the mother sub directly. It had its own airlock, and so would be able to carry a team of frogmen to work in comfort, locking them out into the sea once it was close to the target.

But the ASDS was dogged by technical snags and cost overruns: it tended to get damaged if the mothership sub went at all fast, and its battery system, we gather, was subject to "thermal runaway". The ASDS programme finally expired altogther when the prototype boat was gutted by fire while stored ashore in Hawaii.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.