The dangerous job of identifying and physically disposing of sea mines is currently performed by naval clearance divers.
“The use of clearance divers is effective but extremely limited in coverage, is time-consuming and very risky to personnel,” said Lieutenant-Commander George MacLean.

A new underwater robot, or drone, called the Remote Mine-Hunting and Disposal System (RMDS), aims to make clearance diving safer and easier for the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) dive teams operating in dangerous parts of the world.

“Since Canadian warships regularly deploy overseas to locations where mine threats are high, RMDS would dramatically enhance readiness and survivability in mine threat environments while reducing the risk of potentially losing ships and lives,” said MacLean.

Kraken Robotics is contracted to produce the RMDS system which will be used primarily on Kingston-class vessels.

The RMDS system includes the ability to search for, detect, identify and dispose of a mine from a safe distance autonomously or by remote control up to depths of 200 meters.

It consists of two classes of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). The first is a lightweight AUV designed for long-range deep water at depths of 100-200 meters. It has a long-life battery, making it capable of covering larger areas, and can be launched from a ship’s crane or the shore.

The second is an operator portable AUV, equipped with sonar and designed for shallow water operations at shallower depths of 10-100 meters. The system may be deployed by as few as two operators from a ship, a small boat or from the shore.

When a mine is identified and needs disposal, the Sea Fox Mine Disposal System is deployed to dispose of the mine at a safe distance from ships and personnel.

The fiberoptic guided one-shot mine disposal vehicle is equipped with sonar and an on-board camera to help ship’s crews identify the mines. The mines are destroyed by a built-in large caliber-shaped charge with personnel located a safe distance away.

RMDS is expected to be delivered in 2024, and fully operational in 2025.