Remotely controlled Mine Countermeasures Forces

(To Marina Militare)
10/06/24

The ITAMINEX, specialist exercise of Mine Warfare inserted within the Open Sea 24-1, involved the command of mine countermeasures forces (MARICODRAG) as the main actor. In this training context, one of his teams qualified for the operation of autonomous surface vehicles, embarked on a ship Isole, within the complex game of countering mine warfare, also had the task of carrying out a series of Survey in the waters in front of the docks of the port of Cagliari, in order to support the western maritime command in understanding the seabed of its port waters, with the aim of guaranteeing safe moorings for the units of the naval team.

The MINIRANGER 1 is an innovative automated vehicle, developed by a team of Italian engineers and technicians and represents the culmination of years of research and development in the field of navigation without the presence of pilots on board. This vehicle is equipped with cutting-edge technologies and stands out for its ability to perform a diverse range of tasks, autonomously and reliably. With its advanced sensors, it is able to navigate safely, constantly monitoring the surrounding environment and ensuring an analysis of the seabed at different depths, thanks to its two sonars supplied: one connected directly to the hull and one towable.

One of the most surprising features of the MINIRANGER 1 is the ability to carry out risky operations, in full autonomy, guaranteeing the safety of the personnel who control it remotely. The use of the same in mine countermeasures activities, seabed monitoring and operations such as securing ports, will guarantee the achievement of these objectives in a totally innovative way, placing ever greater attention on the safety and security of operators .

To confirm the interest that it aroused, for the entire period of the exercise, a series of observers and foreign delegations, aimed at acquiring experience in various capacities, also participated with their own autonomous vehicles, testing them in a highly realistic.

During the phases of the exercise, the USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicle) identified some contacts of interest on the bottom of the Cagliari port waters, which were the subject of further investigations. To give an identity to these contacts considered of potential interest, thanks to the international collaboration within the ITA MINEX, the Slovenian team used its own wire-guided vehicle. Collaboration was key to the success of the business. The Slovenian operators, with their professionalism and new generation equipment, gave a face to the sonar images of the MINIRANGER 1, bringing to light about a dozen anchors and a probable submerged historical wreck.

The hall and admiralty type anchors, dating back to different eras, represent an important discovery for the archaeological heritage and more generally for the maritime history of Cagliari. The operation carried out certainly guaranteed important results from a historical and cultural point of view, but it also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in the defense sector and in the technological development of new maritime systems. The joint work between the Italian and Slovenian teams has highlighted the importance of sharing know-how and resources for achieving noteworthy results.

With the end of the exercise it can be officially confirmed that the introduction of autonomous surface vehicles, called MINIRANGER, represents a further and important step forward for the Armed Forces, which highlights its projection towards technological innovation and the design of advanced solutions for the naval sector. Thanks to its intrinsic potential, this autonomous surface vehicle is redefining the limits of the use of unconventional naval assets, opening up new opportunities for the fight against mine warfare and more generally for all those operations related to seabed surveillance.