RNZN Testing USV Operations

MANTAS T12 USV for hydrographic and bathymetric survey


The Royal New Zealand Navy’s littoral warfare unit, HMNZS Matataua, has completed trials with an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV). BlueZone Group has provided a three-month lease of a MANTAS T12 USV from Maritime Tactical Systems (MARTAC).


The USV was used to investigate whether USVs can fill the gap between autonomous underwater vehicles and uncrewed aerial systems to provide seamless capabilities. A spokesperson from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said that the lease provided a proof-of-concept period to assess the feasibility of the USV and answer battle lab research questions.


The NZDF battle lab is conducting a series of experimentation activities with the T12 and initial testing of the USV took place in early October. The spokesperson said: “The trials/experimentation occurred in Devonport and Lake Maowhanga in Waiouru, the experimentation is to gauge its utility for hydrographic and bathymetric activities in order to minimise the ‘human from the process’.”


The trials were a “first iteration” to test endurance and the ability to conduct autonomous missions, and assure the sensor packages and performance of the platform in shallow water using its bathymetric sonar and interferometric side scan sonar.


The MARTAC MANTAS T12 is a 12 feet-long (3.6 m) and 3 ft-wide (0.9 m) catamaran hull USV that is built from ruggedised carbon fibre. Weighing just 260 pounds (117.9 kg) it has a draft of just 9 inches (23 cm) and a maximum payload of 140 pounds (63.5kg).


The T12 can achieve a top speed of 25 knots using a twin screw propeller powered by electric motors to a cruising range of more than 35 nautical miles. It is equipped with the MIND Technology, UUV-3500 hi-res side scan sonar and the Norbit Forward Looking Wideband Multibeam Sonar.


The UUV-3500 can detect medium-large size objects at ranges exceeding 175m with higher resolutions achieved at shorter distances of about 75 metres. The Norbit FLS offers a longer-range detection ahead of the platform up to 250 metres that are used to locate potential military threats that become candidates for further scanning with the UUV-3500.


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RNZN testing USV operations