Unmanned Vehicles

PREMIUM: India gives Hugin an underwater embrace

7th October 2020 - 22:15 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Christchurch

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The Indian Navy is adopting Kongsberg AUVs for operations from new survey ships, which are currently under construction

Kongsberg Maritime announced in late September that it had sold four examples of its Hugin AUV to Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), to be used aboard new survey ships for the Indian Navy (IN).

Each Hugin comes with a transportable container, as well as a launch and recovery system. Kongsberg will also provide initial training and support to the IN.

GRSE is currently constructing four large survey vessels for the IN, each of which will be assigned a Hugin. The vessels will also possess a Kongsberg HiPAP 502 acoustic positioning and communication system to support AUV operations.

Vipin Saxena, Chairman and MD of GRSE, commented: ‘We are pleased and look forward to making use of the Hugin AUVs from Kongsberg, which will augment the Indian Navy’s capabilities for coastal and deep-water hydrographic surveys to aid maritime operations, and will act as a force multiplier.’

As for the OEM, Stene Førsund, senior VP of sensor and robotics sales at Kongsberg Maritime, remarked that the AUVs are configured for IN needs 'today and tomorrow with a multirole capability'.

GRSE won a $331.34 million contract to build four survey ships in late 2018. The first vessel was to be delivered within three years of contract signature, with the others following at six-month intervals. Each ship capable of coastal, harbour and oceanic surveys is 110m long and displaces 3,300t.

Kongsberg Maritime claims the Hugin has surveyed more deep-water kilometres than any other untethered AUV in existence. The first Hugin was introduced in 1993, developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.

The Hugin family has variants available with depth ratings from 1,000m up to 6,000m (see table). It is unclear which variant the IN has procured, but the top of the range is the 6.6m-long, 2.2t Hugin Superior that possesses a Kongsberg HISAS 1032 long-range synthetic aperture sonar, EM2040 MkII multi-beam echo sounder and EdgeTech sub-bottom profiler.

Other confirmed Hugin customers include Finland, Indonesia, Norway and Peru.

Richard Mills, VP of marine robotics sales at Kongsberg Maritime, told Shephard that about two-thirds of Kongsberg AUVs are delivered to defence forces, though navies typically divulge little about how they use them. 

Mills observed that the adoption and use of unmanned systems is now being driven by senior naval officers, whereas in the past it was often the lower tiers pushing ...

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