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SOF Week 2023: JFD ready to hand over first Shadow Seal tactical diving vehicle

9th May 2023 - 15:55 GMT | by Andrew White in Tampa


The TDV can carry a total of four combat divers including a pilot and navigator. (Photo: JFD)

JFD's first production Shadow Seal semi-submersible tactical diving vehicle is due to be handed over to US partner Blue Tide Marine as the company seeks to demonstrate it to potential customers in the Americas.

UK-based JFD is preparing to hand-over the first production model of its Shadow Seal tactical diving vehicle (TDV) to strategic partner Blue Tide Marine as it looks to establish an undersea maritime capability in the US.

The company made the announcement on the first day of SOF Week in Tampa, Florida, confirming the TDV will be delivered to Blue Tide over the coming months.

Once in possession of the craft, Blue Tide will then undertake training ahead of demonstrations to potential customers in the US.

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JFD is exhibiting a prototype model of the Shadow Seal Mk 1D at the inaugural SOF Week exhibition. The craft has been designed to satisfy current and emerging mission requirements from special forces around the world, including capability to ‘covertly cross the expanding offshore and littoral water gap’.

The TDV can carry a total of four combat divers including a pilot and navigator. The craft can be operated as a semi-submersible, meaning it can travel on the surface, semi-submerged or fully submerged. 

It can also be fitted with flexible and modular ISTAR mission suites, dependent upon operational requirements. .

The handover of the first production model to Blue Tide Marine follows a strategic partnership agreed with JFD in March last year.

‘Blue Tide Marine subsequently purchased the first production model of Shadow Seal to provide local demonstration and training services – a significant milestone in JFD’s journey towards a full turnkey US capability, inclusive of TDV provision and follow-on support services throughout the product lifecycle,’ a company statement confirmed.

Blue Tide president Bob Putney suggested that Shadow Seal would be suited to supporting the modernisation of US Special Operations Command, the USN and other agency partners in terms of ‘advanced mission-focused technology [and] extended range’.

However, neither JFD nor Blue Tide was able to comment on potential customers and when and where future demonstrations would take place.

The first production model is currently participating in in-water trials, factory acceptance trials and harbour acceptance trials in the UK. Following the successful completion of these tests, the craft will be delivered to Blue Tide Marine in Fort Lauderdale, JFD officials added.

JFD’s managing director, Rob Hales highlighted: ‘This upcoming, important delivery milestone reflects a significant milestone in our mission to better serve the US and wider Americas undersea markets.’

Shadow Seal was first developed by Ortega Submersibles in the Netherlands before the company was acquired by JFD in 2019. The latest variant measures 8m in length with a 1.92m beam. 

It has a gross vehicle weight of 2,500kg and boasts a maximum operating depth of 30m although the craft is optimised to transit at depths of 4m.

The TDV has an additional payload capacity of 400l, exclusive of combat divers. On the surface, it has a top speed of 7kts, cruising speed of 5kts and maximum range of 60nmi.

Underwater, the craft can operate at speeds up to 5kts with a cruising speed of 4kts and maximum range of 40nmi.

The TDV has two compartments with two seats each, with the craft capable of being piloted from forward or rear positions. In certain operating conditions, the TDV can be ‘cached’ on the sea floor in shallow waters, allowing all four divers to ‘shut down and secure’ the craft before conducting a special reconnaissance or direct action mission.

The craft can be deployed by trailer, small surface vessel and helicopter as well as from larger surface ships or harbours using a crane.

Andrew White


Andrew White

Andrew is a former editor of Digital Battlespace and Unmanned Vehicles magazines. Andrew joined Shephard …

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