Thursday, May 16, 2013

IMCMEX 13 - New Drones, New Tactics

Unmanned naval systems played a significant role during last year's International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX). This year, more than 40 nations will operate 18 Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) in the Persian Gulf during what has become arguably the world's premiere mine counter-measures demonstration.  IMCMEX 13 has also been expanded to include maritime infrastructure protection (MIP) and maritime security operations (MSO) mission sets.  The exercise is breaking new ground both in platforms and tactics.



As with MCMEX 12, USS Ponce will be a major focus area, demonstrating trials of various sorts of mother ship configurations to expedite the deployment of UUVs into suspected mine fields.  This experimentation offers a hedge to mitigate risk against the still yet to be operational Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine warfare mission package.  Conceivably, a well-deck equipped amphibious ship could launch MK 18 Mod 2 Kingfish UUVs at a higher rate (via RHIBs) surveying more water-space than an LCS equipped with an RMS towing a side scan sonar. 

16 April 2013 - In preparation for IMCMEX, personnel assigned to Commander, Task Group 52.3, test a stern gate launch and recovery trailer while embarked aboard Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS  Ponce (AFSB(I) 15).    


14 May 2013 - Sailors aboard USS Gladiator (MCM 11) launch a Seafox mine hunting unmanned underwater vehicle. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Colby Drake/Released)

Note, Seafox is replacing the much bulkier and prone-to-break legacy AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralization System on the MCM class ships.  UK minesweepers are also utilizing Seafox during the exercise.
 

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