The overall objective is to carry out an engineering design study for a system consisting of surface vessel support infrastructure and a multi-sensor tow vehicle that can carry a variety of sensor packages for the detection and classification of underwater munitions in shallow water (<50m). The design study will include the generation of a set of requirements with sponsor and user community input, a specification that will meet the requirements including: the mechanical envelope of the tow vehicle, candidate sensors, support vessel systems (winches, tow cable, electronics, sensors), electrical power and data interfaces, vehicle and ship board sensors, and guest ports for instrument packages that can be hosted on the tow vehicle. The initial focus for sensors will be on acoustics sources and receivers, but the longer-term goal is for “multi-modal” instrument packages (e.g., acoustics plus magnetics).

Technical Approach

This design study is motivated by the possibility that towed systems may be a viable and cost effective solution for wide area surveys addressing munitions remediation. As compared to Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) systems, tow body systems offer operational simplicity, 24/7 operational capability, strap on sensors with low integration cycles, surface based power and data handling, and lower in-water cost/risk. However, as part of the design study, an engineering and fiscal comparison of the technical, operational, and maintenance issues will be addressed for towed versus AUV system solutions.


The design philosophy for developing the Multi-Sensor Towed (MuST) system will be based around the following concepts:

  • Utilize commercial off-the-shelf components whenever possible to reduce design costs, provide industry based replacement parts/support, and system longevity
  • Incorporate modular components to allow field replacement by non-engineering staff
  • Minimize weight, size, power, and complexity to allow the system to be hosted on a variety of ships of opportunity
  • Include a tow cable that consists of copper conductors (for power) and fiber-optics (for data). A fiber-optic data connection ensures current and future bandwidth requirements will be met to support a variety of high bandwidth sensors (e.g., acoustic, video).

(Anticipated Project Completion – 2016)