The US Marine Corps (USMC) has deployed its first amphibious, unmanned robot system, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Remotely Operated Vehicle, which enables marines to “navigate safely and efficiently in shallow waters to identify and neutralize explosive hazards and other threats.”
‘Eyes in the Water’
The remotely operated vehicle’s video and still camera allows Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) divers to monitor situations in real time while its articulating arm helps clear underwater foliage along with explosives.
Master Sgt. Patrick Hilty, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal project officer at MCSC, revealed that the vehicle’s tethered feature keeps operators at a safe distance, when previously, “Marine divers could only disrupt or dispose underwater explosive threats by swimming in close proximity, exposing them to hostile elements.”
“It is a system that saves Marine divers from having to swim hundreds of meters, an activity that can tire them out,” he said.
Marines can leverage the vehicle to execute a range of amphibious tasks, including scanning harbors for threats before allowing a docking Marine Expeditionary Unit ship. The system can also be used for littoral lost object searches, damage assessments, and mine countermeasure missions.
According to the Marines, the system is highly stable underwater and requires “minimal equipment and reduces the Marine Corps’ overall footprint during operations.” Moreover, it can go deeper underwater than manned missions.
More to Follow
The vehicle is the first addition in the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization (LEON) family of systems, and will be followed by more such vehicles over the coming years. The LEON systems will also help the Marines “complement Navy EOD teams in joint operations.”
Staff Sgt. Seth Barnes, EOD Technician with 1st EOD Company, said that having this capability “aids in naval force integration by giving us the same equipment that the Navy is using.”
“It allows us to bolt on with Navy EOD as we move forward.”