- New speedboat/submarine hybrid has begun testing on and below the surface
- The DDU promises faster and longer ranging insertion capabilities for special forces
SubSea Craft has confirmed to Jane’s that its innovative special forces Diver Delivery Unit (DDU) vehicle has begun submerged testing ahead of display at the DSEI defence exhibition in London.
The DDU resembles an offshore racing catamaran and demonstrated its stability at high speeds in mid-2017, but that area of technology and boat design is relatively well established and there is already a wide range of fast insertion craft available on the market. SubSea Craft’s operational concept envisages the DDU travelling over the horizon at high speed and then submerging for the final miles of a mission to covertly insert or extract combat swimmers, so the current phase of underwater testing is key to proving the free-flooding craft’s potential.
The prototype vessel was constructed at the company’s Northshore facility near Chichester in southern England in 2016 and then underwent significant systems and software integration trials alongside at Portland, Dorset, toward the end of that year, before returning to its yard in early 2017. Remedying software issues identified by that testing meant that the boat could not return to Portland for mobility testing until the UK summer of 2017.
However, successful testing then enabled the team behind the project to build sufficient confidence in the robustness of the craft’s systems – some taken offtheshelf and modified, but also with many bespoke elements including large systems such as enclosures for the air-breathing propulsion systems and small ones like new pressure-resistant connectors for the data cables – that the boat could be submerged for the first time.
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