Marine Corps Deploys Robot for Underwater EOD

By Mikayla Easley
A Marine explosive ordnance disposal technician releases a remotely operated vehicle into the water.

Marine Corps photo

An unmanned system is giving the Marine Corps eyes and arms to neutralize explosive threats underwater.

In September, Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding an explosive ordnance disposal remotely operated vehicle — a box-shaped robot that allows Marines to identify and neutralize explosive threats from a distance.

Designed by Strategic Robotic Systems Fusion of Redmond, Washington, the system is outfitted with high-definition video capabilities and an articulator arm, which decreases the risks posed during complex and tiring underwater operations, said Master Sgt. Matthew Jackson, a staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the 1st EOD Company’s Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization section.

“There’s everything from hazards, dangers from currents, water temperature — [the platform] mitigates all this by being a robotic system that doesn’t get hungry, doesn’t get tired,” Jackson said in an interview. “All you have to do is put batteries in it and then you can keep the man away from the minefield.”

The robot can swim to depths of up to 1,000 feet and is equipped with both sound navigation and sonar sensors for increased situational awareness in low visibility underwater environments, he said.

Beyond disarming explosives, Jackson said the system is useful in other potentially hostile or dangerous environments. For example, the robot could survey areas after natural disasters or investigate sunken vessels.

The platform also requires less training to operate compared to other unmanned underwater systems, according to the service.

“Instead of sending a Marine to a course for seven or eight weeks, it takes about four days to learn basic operations for successful employment,” Jackson said.

The device is the first of the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Family of Systems, a series of EOD systems to be fielded gradually by Marine Corps Systems Command in the next several years. The platforms will provide support in the underwater environment, “along with bringing communications topside from the underwater environment up and out to anywhere that we need to pipe the data,” Jackson said.

Topics: Marine Corps News

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