Sunday, March 6, 2016


Well, here’s one that somehow slipped by me.  Textron’s Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) has been selected to tow the unmanned influence sweep system (minesweeping) for the LCS MCM module.  The CUSV is an 11 meter unmanned surface craft.  It has self-righting capability, a draft of a little over 2 ft, data links, remote operator control station, max speed of 28 kts, 24 hr endurance, 1200 nm cruising range, can operate up to sea state 4, and can tow 5000 lb at 10 kts.  The payload bay is 14 ft x 6 ft x 3.5 ft.

Textron has a $34M contract to provide a CUSV for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS).

This sounds like a nice little craft for the minesweeping task other than the potentially slow speed and questionable towing capacity.  As a point of reference, the standard helo-towed Mk105 minesweeping sled weighs around 9000 lbs fueled and operational.  Given the manufacturer’s claim of being able to tow 5000 lb at 10 kts, the 9000 lb Mk105 would most likely be beyond the ability of the CUSV to tow.  I’ve been unable to find a detailed description or specs on the UISS so I don’t know the weight of the equipment.

CUSV - Enough Power To Tow?

I would desperately like to believe that someone in the Navy looked at the CUSV towing capacity before committing to this but we all recall the fiasco of the original Seahawk type helo being found unable to safely tow its intended MCM equipment.  Is this another example of that?  Until someone tells me that this craft can actually tow the UISS, I’m going to remain nervous about this.

So, this is a nice little craft that may or may not be suitable for the task.  Of course, there’s also the issue of whether it can actually meet its specs.  We’ve seen that the MCM module has nice specs but the equipment can’t meet the specs despite years of development.

I’ll keep an eye on this.


  1. The issue with the first UISS iteration was not the towing craft. It was the magnetic inducing cable. It burned out (because of the high current pushed through it) after a few hours. Furthermore it was so heavy (to be expected) that three was no weight budget on the ship (because they are fat pigs) for spares. So for a 30 day minesweeping mission there was no way the UISS could last that long.

    Now how engineers couldn't know upfront that a cable submersed in a nice heat sink (the ocean) would burn out is a matter for a serious criminal investigation.

    So instead of worry about the boat (although that is critical for the mechanical noisemaker portion) look at the latest iteration of the cable.

    1. Just to be clear, the original plan called for the H-60 helo to tow but it was found to have inadequate safety margin and that plan was scrapped. CUSV is the apparent successor to the helo.

      You're quite correct about the cable. Unfortunately, you've also summed up just about all the available information on the UISS. I have no information on weights, configuration, performance, tow speed, etc. beyond what you've outlined. If you find a source of more information, let me know.

    2. CNO,

      The first iteration of the MCM as of 2008 had a boat towing the cable. I never heard of a Helo to tow this cable but it was before 2008.

      CUSV is a new boat, new contractor, etc. Why I have no idea, the boat was not the problem the Cable was.

      The first boat was developed by AAI Corporation, General Dynamics Robotic Systems, and Maritime Applied Physics, the Fleet class Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV)

  2. The LM RMMV(Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle), part of the mine hunting module for the LCS, came under severe criticism from DOT&E & Senator McCain due to only achieving 25 hrs MTBF in last years trials after 10 years development. The RMMV now at Mod 6 is a 14,000 lb snorkeling semi-submersible RMMV tow vehicle for the Raytheon AN/AQS-20A minehunting sonar.

    As a result of the pressure USN has now instituted a three way competition to pacify its critics, keep the RMMV or replace it with the CUSV for the minehunting role.

    Rather puzzling is the USN third choice to compete in this role, the GD ASI(Advanced Information System) Kingfish UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle), with a totally different mode of operation, a torpedo-shaped 19 feet and 21 inches dia., weight 1,700 pounds UUV with own internal sonar. Under contract for Increment 4.

    The USN hope to have mission package IOC in FY2019/20 for the LCS, will update/spend money on upgrading 'legacy' systems, the 1980's Avenger class based on experience gained from 5th Fleet operations in the Persian Gulf.

    1. Remember that the RMS and the UISS are different parts of the MCM Mission Module and have different roles.

      The RMS performs volume and bottom searches using a towed sonar. The UISS performs mine neutralization via a mechanical acoustic trigger and a magnetic influence cable.

      The Kingfish is a 3rd part of the module (originally there was a BPAUV) that performs surveillance only in very shallow water.

    2. Agree the RMS and UISS are totally different, my point was that the CUSV was being considered as the robotic tow vehicle replacing the RMMV for the RMS as well being used for the UISS tow vehicle.

      The Kingfish is a derivative of the commercial Bluefin-21 used in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, so it can go deep, very deep. So Kingfish would have no problems in operating at the greater depth required for the RMS role. What would be different is that there would be no continuous data/communication link with ship in real time to allow feed and control as with the RMMV/CUSV, but would have to be recovered by ship to download data after completing its programed search. The one major advantage Kingfish has over the RMMV/CUSV+AQS-20A options is the reduction in weight 14,000 v 1,700 lbs, LCS Independence has had numerous problems in launching and recovering the RMMV using the mission bay overhead launch crane in other than calm seas.

  3. Do you guys ever get tired of re-inventing the wheel!

    The UK used a remote controlled unmanned combined influence system in 2003 in Iraq, operational use that is.

    OK, it was a bit of a lash up but it allowed the opening of Umm Qasr. USN and USCG were part of the operation.

    Since then, we have developed the system into ARCIMS

    ComNav, you have the link to my piece on Umm Qasr and the development of unmanned MCM over this side of the pond.

    1. Re-inventing the wheel is the Navy's primary mission!

    2. The Navy once had an ALQ-219 SWIMS manufactured by EDO. It's unclear to me what became of it and how it's related to either RN SWIMS or the current LCS UISS, if at all.

      The Navy seems determined to develop their own, new sweep system for reasons that are completely unclear. The LCS MCM module has been in development for a decade or so and is still non-functional. Meanwhile, our H-53 MCM helos are beyond their operational life and the Avenger MCM vessels are literally rotting due to the Navy's fixation on the LCS as the only MCM platform.

      I'm baffled and embarrassed for the USN.

    3. This is where BIG Navy doesn't control it Warfare Centers. The UISS was developed at Panama City as a science experiment. Meanwhile the first ASW was developed at NUWC. There was no coordination between the modules and therefore no common vehicle selected mandated or designed.


  4. "Do you guys ever get tired of re-inventing the wheel!

    The UK used a remote controlled unmanned combined influence system in 2003 in Iraq, operational use that is."

    Where is the billions in development to the contractors, and the benefit to the congressional districts in that?!?!?


    1. Not sure what you're saying, Jim. Are you skeptical of TD's information? If so, he's right and it's all documented and readily viewable. If not, I'm not sure what you're saying. Try again?

    2. Sorry, CNO. No, I read TD and have a great deal of respect for him.

      My point was that us buying something that the UK already created and was actively using would deny the Admirals/Congressmen/Contractors their 10 year mission module development gravy train.

      So we won't ever do it.


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