Navy Tests LCS Mine-Hunting System


The U.S. Navy has improved the reliability of its remote mine-hunting system for the Littoral Combat Ship through a series of tests off the coast of Palm Beach, Fla., service officials said.

The so-called Remote Minehunting System, or RMS, consists of a semi-submersible with the AN/AQS-20A variable depth sonar and is designed to locate mines in shallow and deep water, officials said.

“Getting through this was really important to the whole progression of the program and efforts to get the system fielded to the fleet,” Steve Lose, who manages the program for the Navy, said in an interview. “The big plus is what RMS is going to bring to the mission and keep sailors and ships out of the mine field.”

The reliability testing decreased the average time the system failed between missions, thus increasing the effectiveness of the technology, Lose said.

The Navy adopted a test-fix-test approach wherein the system was put through a series of operationally-relevant scenarios designed to push the envelope of its electronic, hydraulic and navigational components, Lose said.

“The end product was an engineering change proposal – a design change whereby a problem is corrected,” he said. “We looked at previously identified failure modes, tested, did an analysis, then fixed the design for reliability.”

The evaluations led to improvements in hydraulic systems that help the semi-submersible turn, remain stable and change depth,” Lose said. The device is propelled by a standard diesel engine, however, hydraulic systems are needed for control, Lose said.

“We improved the overall capacity of the hydraulic system,” he said. “The vehicle is heavily dependent upon hydraulics.”

The testing, conducted by the maker of the mine-hunting system, Lockheed Martin Corp., included Navy sailors and engineers, as well as independent technical experts tasked with identifying and correcting problems on the system, Lose said.

Lockheed received a $52.9 million contract in May from the Navy to integrate the system into the LCS mine countermeasures mission package on both Lockheed’s Freedom ship and Austal’s Independence, company officials said.

Overall, the system completed more than 850 hours of testing during 47 missions over a four-month period, assessments which included exercises utilizing the AN/AQS-20A sonar to locate debris and “mock” mines on ocean floor.

“We attempted to operationally simulate how it will operate from the LCS, where you can program missions,” Lose said. Future tests will involve testing the remote mine-hunting system in an actual mine field, he said.

The sonar is lowered to additional depth beneath the surface through use of a long cable tethered to the submersible, Lose said.

The reliability testing also involved simulated conflict scenarios and took place off the shores of a Lockheed Martin facility at Riviera Beach, Fla., according to Steve Froelich, who manages the system for the contractor.

“We got together with some design reviewers and identified the need to design a fix for anything that had caused the system to interrupt the mission,” he said.

Following the daily exercises, data from the simulated mine-hunting scenarios was loaded onto a data recorder that compiled such information as temperature, pressure, revolutions per minute and sonar levels, Froelich added.

The testing also examined the navigational system of the submersible, which uses what’s called a semi-autonomous capability, meaning the vessel can travel along a path or trajectory that is pre-programmed by computers using global positioning system waypoint technology, Froelich said.

The remote mine-hunting system is an key part of the ship’s mine counter-measures mission package, a so-called modular suite of technologies engineered to work together to defend the vessel against explosive devices placed in water.

Under its deal with the Navy, Lockheed will ultimately upgrade semi-submersible on as many as 10 ships and integrate communications systems designed to enable sailors to operate two of the submersibles at the same time, Lockheed officials said.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Big-Dean

    Ok, so how does the need for 50knot destroyer size (4000 ton) boat fit exactly with slow mine hunting?

    I bet I get at least 10 thumbs down from the LCS mafia for “insulting” the LCS ;-P

  • JoeSovereign

    The moduler design is also meant to make easy upgrades. When the anti-mine tools are ready for a major upgrade you simply build the anti-mine module 2.0 and slip it on to an existing ship. If this is actually easier or cheaper is yet to be seen.

  • Tad

    Maybe, if the RMS does pan out, vessels other than the LCS will be able to deploy it.

  • hibeam

    Where the heck is the mess hall? Are you trying to make this thing affordable?

  • Hibeam

    How many innocent civilians in Pakistan were harmed or killed during this testing? The Navy isn’t saying.

  • Speedy

    The little robot looks armed?
    (Is that a missile underneath it? (Or is it a torpedo?)

    • USNbubblehead

      Its an ROV. The main unit (AN/WLD-1; the snorkeling unit) sends the ROV out on a tether when a minefield is detected. The ROV approaches each mine, allowing the AN/WLD-1 to stay a safe distance away.

    • trall

      how do you think they get rid of the mines? spend a fortune to send out a squad of EOD or just blow it up from afar?

  • Guest

    While it is certainly wonderful that the Little Crappy Ship may soon have advanced mine detection, what happens next? Does the crew all stand on deck and chant “bad mine, bad mine, go far far away”? How is the LCS supposed to handle mine clearing?

    • joseph

      Based off that picture – it blows it up.

      If you look at the bottom of the RMS on the image, there is what looks like a snub torpedo stowed at the bottom for about three quarters of its length.

      I would assume that is an Archerfish mine clearance round, or something similar.

      • Curt

        It’s a AQS-20a acoustic fish. Neutralization is handled by AMNS on the MH-60S

  • blight_

    Lots of blurbs about detection, but nothing about neutralization.

    I’m confused.

  • Ken

    First of all, this is truly a big waste of taxpayer dollars. Why? Because there are already systems that do the same job. One of the things that is unique to subsurface minehunting is that in order to find a submerged mine, you have to put something in the water. If that something is a ship….with men obviously on board…then you have defeated the purpose of the search which is, in fact, to keep the ship from being in danger of being damaged/destroyed. With that said, the safest way to locate and neutralize mines is through the use of airborne mine countermeasures. One of the lessons learned from the Persian Gulf Wars was that the use of minesweeper ships is limited by weather and sea state…..much more so than aircraft are. However, they can maintain a sweep after dark so they can sweep non stop over a 24 hour period. Also, minesweepers have to travel to the area where the mines are located which can take several weeks and require a transport (Sea-going ferry) to get the sweeper where it needs to be. airborne minesweepers can be deployed and operating any where in the world in 72 hours. So, with all this said, is this system ONLY deployable by ship? If so, you are endangering the lives of the ship’s crew by placing them in the minefield. It may be remote, but it was said the system was tethered to the ship…..TOO close !

    I spent over 10 years in the AMCM community. There are much better systems available that will do this job-faster, better, cheaper, and most importantly…SAFER!!!! $52.9 could be used to buy more of the present available systems with enhancements!!! What a waste!!!!

  • Big-Dean

    Newswire, June 28, 1pm EST,

    For public release

    Navy report LCS resounding success

    Vice Admiral Knucklehead, commander officer LCS 1, the USS Freedom, has announced today the successful installation of the ADSM module. Admiral Knucklehead says that the crew “worked night and day for six months” to get this very important war-fighting module operational and combat tested. The USS Freedom went through expensive sea trials and the ADSM module performed beyond expectations and it came in only $1.3 M over budget and 3 years late, well within accepted Navy standard. Admiral Knucklehead said, “I’m proud of my crew and ship, this important milestone shows the Navy and the country and the LCS is ready to sail in harmless way and make port visits. She makes an important contribution to the fleet in the years to come, We can now only expect more positive results. The Anti-Diesel Stain module (ADSM) works as planned in covering up the exhaust stains on the side the ship.”

  • Uncle Bill

    So when we drive the mean time between failures to zero are we done?

    • Uncle Bill

      “The reliability testing decreased the average time the system failed between missions,”

  • Warren

    I wonder how much money ABS has made off this program so far.

  • Mine Sweeping BM

    A major step in the right direction! For those of you from the wooden decks where “Iron Men Tread,” you’ll recognize the prospects coming down the road as 2d and 3d gen kick in. I am impressed – Mineware plays a critcal role in maintaing a modernized Fleet.

  • Guest

    I guess the steel LCS will be a boom to mine hunting..LOL!

  • paul McMahon

    I am an AMS Sailor from the 50’s, and I am glad we are still spending money on mine Warfare research. There is no reason that little baby will not be cut from it’s cord, and then follow it’s target to a safe place to donate. or even attach itself to the belly of the target and Waite for a command from the mother ship to blow… The money spent on hydraulic control is being well spent!

  • awc ret allan

    do they have the capability of more than 1 sonar frequency so if you need to operate more than 1 unit they won’t interfere with each other

  • w.schroeder

    make the outer shell more stealthier and more reusible for cost effictiveness, also try a varity of submunitions like cluster to home in on field remote guided far from home ship or base and possible make it composit to save weight and make transportable any where in world in under 24 hrs.

  • Gerald M. Weber

    We’re doing it again, forgetting about ship count, mine sensitivity settings and mine burial. I was the operational commander for the sweeping of Soviet mines off the coast of Egypt in 1974 or 75. Mud bottom, shallow environment, probable ship count of 21and very sensitive magnetic mines. The only way to sweep those mines was with “safe track sweeping” and we accomplished that task with AMCM H-53s. We did it safer and a hell of a lot faster that ships could have even with this new gear.

  • nilsplat

    Tested in calm waters in FL. How about heavy seas?

  • Gary

    But some defense contractor made millions on this and that is what counts today!

  • capt’n john

    Lord, save us from ourselves, please! For those of you who didn’t see the special TV show on the acceptance trials for LCS 1 & 2, look it up, sit down with a stiff toddy, and prepare to brace yourself. The RMS recovery module is the biggest jury-rig I’ve ever seen – they almost didn’t get the package back in sea state 0… and at all ahead slow!

    “The reliability testing decreased the average time the system failed between missions, thus increasing the effectiveness of the technology, Lose said.”

    PARDON ME??? I don’t think so – the technology either works or it doesn’t. you might make the system more effective, but not the technology. and just how does it fail “between missions” ?? if i’d ever given my boss a line of crap like that i’d have been dragging my butt-less carcass out the door in no time.

    and now we find out that the LCS is really an “ocean-going” ship designed to maximize littoral capabilities. really? well, doesn’t that just make you feel warm and fuzzy all over….

    I weep….

  • Any mine hunting sonar can only classify an object as mine like.I have fooled mine hunting sonars from the earliest to the sqq14-30-32 included the Brits and French systems. You ask how. A mine is a cylinder or a sphere. Fake mine #1 old hot water heater,#2 concrete ball and any other item that presents a mine like return. This also includes natural sea shapes like coral heads. We can find a lic plate from space with video camera. Changes medium. Mount cameras I the configureation of the sqq classify transducer head on a rov. Cheap and operators can SEE the target .portable packages could be developed to be deployable on any ship available. VIDEO is the only way to find MINES not mine like .

  • grumpy boats

    Having been a part of LCS for the last 4 yrs and testing the turds as we call it. I can tell you that these thingsare just that a turd. They only work maybe once before they breakdown the most I have seen has been 3 operations with no issues. In fact the running joke is that these things are made by ACME and sold by Wylie Coyote. There are better and cheaper systems out there to use, It seems to be someones got their retirement job setup and thats why we continue to use this system which can only be used on the Independence Class of LCS. They can’t use it on the Freedom class due to its weight comming outthe side of the ship it floods the mission area out.

  • WMc
  • WMc