You are here

Modular Charge Delivery System (CDS) for Undersea Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS 408, Expeditionary Missions

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate an explosive Charge Delivery System (CDS) for precision placement by means of an Undersea Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)

DESCRIPTION: U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Forces are tasked with the remote neutralization of explosive hazards in the maritime environment. These hazards include naval mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) placed in the water in order to damage ships or infrastructure. To counter Naval Mines and Underwater Improvised Explosive Devices (UWIEDs), US Navy EOD Divers are required to approach the device manually at severe risk to life in order to defeat the threat. Not only is this hazardous to the diver, the physiological limitations and decompression time add additional constraints such as staffing, chamber requirements, and decompression time. The dive profile for a decompression dive to greater than 200 feet can take more than two hours. The use of an Undersea Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) would allow smaller teams to work safely and quickly to restore access to mined ports, harbors and waterways. Lessons learned from fighting IEDs on land have shown the value in employing robotic systems when addressing explosive devices. These robots allow faster response times and reduce risk to life (Ref. 1).

There exists a need for an explosive charge delivery system that can integrate with a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) ROV to counter naval mines and maritime IEDs that are floating, submerged in the water column (tethered or drifting), or positioned on the seafloor. This proposal is for the development of a “plug-and-play” kit that can be incorporated on to an existing COTS ROV or slightly Modified-Off-The-Shelf (MOTS) ROV. To meet EOD force needs the “plug-and-play” kit needs to interface with an ROV that is one or two person deployable/retrievable without the need for additional launch and recovery equipment. The intent is that the ROV will be operated from an F-470 or F-580 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC). The CDS container should interface and function mechanically with the ROV (absent of a need for acoustic or electrical interface) in order to allow for adaptability and incorporation into future ROV chassis and end-effector developments (Ref. 2). In order to optimize effectiveness, the CDS container should be designed with consideration for ROV stability (metacenter, center of buoyancy, and other criteria) while minimizing cross sectional area to reduce drag on the ROV in strong currents (Ref. 3). The technical innovation required is to control the buoyancy and stability of the ROV throughout the operation.

There are alternative and costly weapon systems available or devices that utilize non-military firing systems. Currently, the Urgent Operational Needs (UONs) solution utilized by EOD forces expends a costly proprietary neutralizer to expend of a single naval mine. To avoid such costs, the proposed solution would make use of common demolition materials already in use by EOD forces. The proposed system will make use of standard military plastic explosives and firing devices in order to:

1) Streamline the Weapon System Certification processes. By using explosives and firing devices already approved for military use, the lengthy and costly process of certifying a weapon system will be reduced significantly.

2) Ease logistic burdens required with storing and shipping specialized weapon systems by utilizing existing explosives and firing devices already approved for storage on Navy installations and vessels.

3) Avoid life-cycle cost by providing EOD forces with a tool that incorporates common demolition materials already in service and stored in Explosive Magazines around the world. Not only does this ease the operational logistics of transporting the equipment, it leverages an existing infrastructure for storage, transportation, and training. This system will work with our standard C4 or equivalent and current firing devices. Those items are already in circulation and therefore do not require a logistic tail to support (storage, use, training, and production costs).

PHASE I: The company will define and develop a CDS concept for integrating with a COTS/MOTS ROV and placing charges on drifting, moored, and bottom mines. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concept through modeling and analysis to show that the concept will provide a cost-effective CDS that utilizes standard military demolition materials and allows for optimum ROV performance. The company will demonstrate in their analysis the open architecture aspect of the design and how it would interface with multiple COTS/MOTS designs. Phase I Option if exercised, would include the initial layout and capabilities description to build the unit in Phase II.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I effort and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), the company will develop CDS prototypes and provide support for evaluation. The prototypes will be evaluated in an operationally relevant environment against the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW. This system will not be evaluated using live explosives. To understand the risk and scope of achieving required safety certification, the company will conduct a preliminary hazard analysis. The Navy will use this analysis to conduct a more detailed Operational Risk Management (ORM) assessment in support of Phase III. The company will deliver a final prototype at the end of Phase II.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The company will support the Navy in transitioning the CDS to operational use. The company will integrate the finalize design into the COTS/MOTS ROV, test and certify the complete system and provide recommendations for integration into the system into the Navy’s MK 19 ROV Program of Record. Private Sector Commercial Potential: This technology provides capability for a small ROV to conduct precision placement of items on the sea floor. If desired, the containers could be fitted with various sensors (active or passive) for use in monitoring and/or recording activity in the undersea environment. This capability would have applications in Defense, Industry, and Research.


  • CDR (Ret) Reynolds, Thomas S., “How navies can adapt IED lessons for mine-countermeasures effort”, Proceedings, July 2013;
  • Department of Defense, Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap (FY 2013-2038);
  • NOAA Ocean Service Education, “Tides and Currents”, 25 March 15;

KEYWORDS: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) in a marine environment; Undersea Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV); Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in a marine environment; Naval Mine Warfare; Mine Countermeasures; Undersea Robotics

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government