OCEAN2020: ECA GROUP demonstrates its drones system for maritime security

Tuesday, March 03 2020
ECA GROUP participated in OCEAN2020 sea trials and demonstrated the combined use of drones for situational awareness and threat response at sea.

 

OCEAN 2020: an ambitious European cooperation project

 

OCEAN 2020 (Open Cooperation for European mAritime awareNess) is an EU-funded project implemented by the European Defence Agency (EDA) aiming at enhancing maritime surveillance and situational awareness, through the successful integration of manned and unmanned systems. Coordinated by Leonardo, the project is bringing together the technical excellence and wide operational experience from 42 partners from 15 countries, all involved in the Maritime Defence domain, to identify operational needs and scenarios to collaborate at the European level.

 

Stephane Desjardins, OCEAN 2020 Project Manager at ECA GROUP:

ECA Group is proud to take up the challenge of this first European maritime defence project and to successfully integrate its drones systems within a joint naval exercise giving a realistic tactical context

 

European heterogeneous unmanned systems collaboration

As part of this project, a demonstration was conducted in the Mediterranean Sea in late November 2019 hosted by the Italian Navy in Taranto. The purpose was to demonstrate how heterogeneous unmanned assets could provide in real-time a maritime picture of the theatre of operations to a command centre located in a stand-off distance on land.

 

Stephane Desjardins, OCEAN 2020 Project Manager at ECA GROUP:

The highlight of the project was the demonstration held in Taranto from 20th to 21st November 2019. This was a European first, in both scope and ambition.

We have demonstrated our capability to use our naval drones system (AUV, ROV, and USV) from a control centre on board a warship

 

During the demonstration, ECA GROUP has deployed its INSPECTOR 90 unmanned surface vehicle (USV), fitted to launch and recover the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) SEASCAN. Moreover the USV acted as a communication relay between the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) A9 and the control and command center.

Two mission scenarios were performed:

  • interdiction of a threatening vessel
  • Interception of a mine-laying vessel before an amphibious operation

The joint and cooperative use of manned and unmanned vehicles were integrated into a naval unit command and control system, allowing real time data exchange via satellite to the European Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) located in the European Defence Agency in Brussels.

The demonstration confirmed the successful exchange of the information collected from the different vehicles deployed in the area of operations, to create a comprehensive maritime picture.

 

During the demonstration at the EU MOC in Brussels: real time display of collected tactical data and videos coming from each vessels and assets

 

Following this first successful demonstration, a second one will be carried out for June 2020 in the Baltic Sea.

 

Focus on the first scenario: boat interception and inspection of sunken items

During the first scenario, the goal of the exercise was to intercept a fast approaching suspicious boat and identify possible sunken debris.

To do so, ECA GROUP’s USV INSPECTOR equipped with audio warning and the SEASCAN identification ROV was deployed in a completely autonomous way for dissuasion purposes, once the threat alert was activated.

 

USV INSPECTOR 90 launched to intercept the target

 

The USV was used to approach the suspicious high speed sailing boat and assess the threat, sending the command centre information to decide on intervention while keeping crews out of the dangerous area.

 

USV INSPECTOR 90 launched to intercept the target

 

The USV was used to approach the suspicious high speed sailing boat and assess the threat, sending the command centre information to decide on intervention while keeping crews out of the dangerous area.

 

ECA Group team supervising the fast boat interception from a stand-off distance

 

After the threat has been neutralized, the A9-M AUV has been used to perform seabed sonar detection in order to localize the wreck / objects dropped at sea by the suspect vessel. As part of this project the AUV was equipped with a new HD camera to complete the seabed map obtained thanks to the AUV high performance sonars at the end of the operation.

 

 

The INSPECTOR USV also conducted a close visual inspection of the assessed sunk target by automatically deploying the SEASCAN identification ROV. Its mission during the scenario were the inspection and identification of sunken wreck items that may have resulted from the intervention phase on the threatening boat.

 

Focus on the second scenario: Mine localisation and inspection

The purpose of the second scenario was to demonstrate the capability of unmanned systems collaboration to detect, localise and identify underwater mines laid by a suspicious vessel.

Thanks to ECA Group’s UMISOFTTMsoftware, all drones can be easily run from the same common interface. For this exercise, ECA Group deployed both an A9-M AUV for detection and localization of underwater mines, and its USV INSPECTOR 90 with a SEASCAN ROV identification on-board for close inspection and mine classification.

 

 

The INSPECTOR USV also conducted a close visual inspection of the assessed sunk target by automatically deploying the SEASCAN identification ROV. Its mission during the scenario were the inspection and identification of sunken wreck items that may have resulted from the intervention phase on the threatening boat.

 

Focus on the second scenario: Mine localisation and inspection

The purpose of the second scenario was to demonstrate the capability of unmanned systems collaboration to detect, localise and identify underwater mines laid by a suspicious vessel.

Thanks to ECA Group’s UMISOFTTMsoftware, all drones can be easily run from the same common interface. For this exercise, ECA Group deployed both an A9-M AUV for detection and localization of underwater mines, and its USV INSPECTOR 90 with a SEASCAN ROV identification on-board for close inspection and mine classification.

 

 

The A9 AUV was once again used for seabed sonar detection in search of mines in the seafloor thanks to its high performance HD embedded payloads and low signature to provide a global situational picture.

 

Sonar and video mosaicking data processing after A9 AUV mission, using UMISOFTTM software

 

The data processed were mainly sonar data and videos shared immediately after post-processing from the local control centre to the European Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in Brussel.

Using the data collected by the AUV, the INSPECTOR was sent to the designated area to deploy automatically the SEACAN ROV thanks to its LARS (Launch and recovery system) in order to carry out the final visual identification. The SEASCAN powerful lighting and camera allows to closely inspect the smartest mines thanks to its very low signature.

 

ROV SEASCAN investigation

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