The harsh, unforbidding environment of underwater operations becomes an even more difficult operational domain when unexploded ordnance is taken into account. In the Baltic alone, for example, where there has been no actual widespread conflict for well over half a century, naval operators and maritime safety authorities have to deal with the prospect of around 160,000 unexploded mines and similar devices, according to Bengt Larsson, Sales Manager for Saab Seaeye in the company’s Dynamics business area.
Speaking to Mönch on the opening day of Euronaval 2016 in Paris on 17 October, Larsson explained this was part of the background to the company’s development of the MULTI-SHOT MINE NEUTRALISATION SYSTEM, or MuMNS. The system, which maintains a ‘man in the loop’ at all times when deploying explosive charges, is designed to provide operators with a flexible and adaptable mine-clearing capability, with the facility to place three separate charges on three separate objects in a single mission. “Other clearance systems are limited to a single charge and, indeed, some of them are expendable, blowing themselves up with the target,” Larsson told Mönch, emphasising the unique nature of the MuMNS solution.
A prototype has been in the water for well over three years now, according to Larsson, and tests with a potential customer have been under way since earlier this year. Demonstrations have so far taken place for naval authorities in Sweden, the Baltic nations and the United Kingdom, where the significant advantages in cutting the operational burden of long, tedious and complex countermine missions has been obvious, he points out.
MuMNS is the result of a self-financed research and development effort within Saab, merging technologies throughout the Dynamics business with those of SeaEye, the Fareham, UK-based Saab subsidiary.