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Undersea Vehicles and National Needs (1996)

Chapter: A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members

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Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.

APPENDIX B Foreign Developments

A variety of motivations drive international developments in undersea vehicles, and national government sponsorship of these developments varies from country to country. As in the United States, marine research, ocean mapping, minerals, communications, oil and gas, fisheries, and national security are the primary interests of international ocean technology. Japan, France, Canada, Russia, and the United Kingdom have the most aggressive ocean technology development programs outside the United States.


While Japan's ocean interests focus primarily on the "traditional" maritime sectors like fisheries and marine transportation, this nation also has the foremost undersea vehicle development program (Okamura, 1990). Because there is very little defense research and development (compared to the major military powers) driving technology in Japan, "headline projects" have instead provided national technology focus. The Japanese have adopted a systematic strategy to "conquer inner space" by progressively penetrating the ocean. Kaiko reached the deepest part of the ocean in March 1995. The Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC), Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Construction, the Advanced Robot Technology Research Association, Overseas Communication Japan, and the Japan Deep Sea Technology Association are among the many agencies and organizations involved in Japan's coordinated ocean technology effort. This effort includes deep submergence vehicles (DSVs), remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and autonomous undersea vehicles (AUVs) (Asakawa et al., 1993). Japan has also aggressively pursued international agreements and has a number of ongoing collaborative projects with other countries (JAMSTEC, 1992).

Outside of the key "headline projects," Japan's interest is in technologies concerned with earthquake prediction and undersea resources, including submarine minerals and oils. The objective of these programs is more serious in regard to minerals, particularly in view of the United Nations (UN) Marine Law Treaty (in effect as of November 1994) that prescribes that mining concessions to exploit deep seabed minerals should be provided only to companies with the necessary exploiting technologies. The UN will assess the engineering qualifications of the applicant. Because Japan has applied for mining concessions off the Hawaiian Islands, technologies advanced enough to qualify Japan as a developer of submarine minerals are needed.

Although the Japanese developed some occupied and unoccupied submersibles as early as the late 1950s, beginning in the early 1980s, they systematically developed increasingly deep-diving vehicles. The series began with a DSV, Shinkai 2000 (2,000 meters), in 1981. The 3,000-meter ROV, Dolphin 3K, was put into service in 1987, followed by the DSV Shinkai 6500 (6,500 meters), which became operational in 1989 and is currently the deepest-diving manned submersible in the world. The most recent addition to the Japanese vehicle assets is Kaiko, an ROV that cost approximately $60 million, which assists and accompanies Shinkai 6500. Kaiko made its initial deep test dive in March 1994, going into the Mariana Trench off Guam island, where it reached a depth that nearly matched the Trieste record. Umbilical problems forced termination of the dive just two meters from the bottom. Kaiko did reach the deepest abyss in the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench at 10,912 meters, on March 24, 1995, where it filmed small fish. Kaiko is equipped to do seismological and biological research in addition to supporting Shinkai missions.

JAMSTEC is a joint government-industry organization responsible for undersea vehicle procurements, maintenance, and operations. JAMSTEC has dock space for the three mother ships, Natsushima (for Shinkai 2000), Kaiyo (for Dolphin 3K), and Yokosuka (for Shinkai 6500 and Kaiko), as well as complete on shore maintenance facilities for all the vehicles. A simulator is provided for submersible pilot and crew training as well as mission simulation.

Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.


Two of the republics of the former Soviet Union (FSU) have undersea vehicle assets and developmental programs. In the FSU the emphasis has been on DSVs and AUVs rather than ROVs. There are more than 30 DSVs in the FSU, which is more than in any other area of the world. Many of these DSVs are in Ukraine because Sevastopol in the Crimea (now part of Ukraine) was a major USSR support base for these vehicles; most are still in operational condition. There is now little new development and few operations because of present political and economic conditions.

In Russia, the two MIR submersibles (6,000-meter depth capability) built in Finland and operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, are considered state of the art. The Shirshov Institute has four other DSVs, with two more under construction. However, the MIRs are probably the best known DSVs in the FSU, where there is now a growing interest in developing tourist submersibles and AUVs for export.

The FSU built more than 20 ROV systems during the past 20 years for a variety of applications (Given, 1991), including some that were towed from ships and were capable of depths to 6,000 meters. As a result of technology export restrictions from the West during the Cold War, AUVs development in the FSU has been and will continue to be hampered by the lack of modern computing technology. Nonetheless, engineers in the FSU have been developing AUV technology since the early 1970s. Even without advanced electronics and computers, they have achieved a number of practical successes and have accumulated significant operational experience with autonomous vehicles. At least one project is under way to sell AUVs on the international market (Given, 1991). The Institute for Oceanological Problems in Vladivostok has used several AUVs in numerous deep ocean search and recovery operations in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and in the Norwegian Sea (Mooney et al., 1996).

The FSU has also developed advanced capability in titanium fabrication and titanium welding, and the development of composite and ceramic structures is under way. Funding shortages mean that little new development in the FSU is currently under way; however, former Soviet research and development institutions and facilities are increasingly open to foreign visitors (OTA, 1993). In addition, they are actively marketing service operations using their submersible assets. The two MIRs have been used by companies and organizations in the West. Although this may or may not contribute directly to U.S. technological capabilities, the FSU will likely have technology to offer other countries, and the U.S. may adopt specific technologies of interest.


France, primarily the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Oceans (IFREMER), continues to have an impressive ocean technology program, which began in the 1950s. IFREMER is a public agency that has special status allowing it to function as a government-funded corporation while also conducting private industrial and commercial for-profit business. IFREMER's research assets include DSVs, ROVs, and AUVs. The 6,000-meter capable Nautile is probably the best known of the French DSVs; IFREMER is also developing a 6,000-meter ROV. Private companies in France, such as COMEX Industries, have developed a variety of commercial (i.e., nonmilitary) undersea vehicles. COMEX alone has designed and built more than 20 DSVs. Finally, the French navy has a long history of DSV development. Beginning in the 1950s, the bathyscaphes FNRS-3 and Archimede were in service for nearly a quarter of a century before they were finally retired in the late 1970s. Today, the Navy operates the DSV Griffon in support of its deep ocean missions.


In the United Kingdom, the offshore oil and gas industry primarily drives ocean technology and focuses on ROVs and AUVs. In the past, private companies in the United Kingdom were the principal developers of undersea technologies, including vehicles and subsystems. They were also significant exporters of those technologies.

Within the government, the Defense Research Agency plays a key role in ocean technology work. The United Kingdom is not using or developing DSVs (although some were developed in the 1970s) with the single exception of a submarine rescue vehicle for the Royal Navy, which is an adaptation of the Slingsby LR5 built in 1978.

The United Kingdom is also involved in the European Community cooperative research program Marine, Science and Technology (MAST). MAST funds scientific and technological programs with parallel objectives. The overall goal of the programs is to contribute to establishing a scientific and technical [emphasis added] basis for the exploration, exploitation, management, and protection of the seas around Europe (MAST, 1990). Approximately 30 percent of MAST's $100 million budget for 1991 through 1994 was targeted for marine technology, including vehicles.

Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Denmark are also active in MAST. A large number of MAST's technology programs focus on sampling and measuring instrumentation, including optical plankton analysis systems, electrochemical instrumentation for the in situ determination of trace metals, the in situ acoustic characterization of suspended sediment, and anti-fouling coatings for submarine sensors.

The U.K. AUTOSUB AUV development program, which includes a proof-of-concept AUV and a 6,000-meter depth, long-duration AUV, parallels MAST. The AUV, called Dolphin, will be capable of transiting from the United Kingdom to the United States and collecting oceanographic data enroute (ITRI, 1994).

Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.


For nearly 30 years, Canada has been a leader in the development and sale of undersea vehicles. One company (which ceased doing business in 1975) was the third largest builder (15 built) of DSVs in the world. Today, a company in Vancouver is the largest manufacturer of tourist submersibles, with more than 12 delivered throughout the world. Another Vancouver company proposed two tourist submarines in the early 1990s. In the ROV and AUV vehicle sectors, several Canadian companies have built a wide variety of ROVs, ranging from low-cost inspection vehicles to work ROVs. Several AUVs have also been built in Canada. In all, more than 200 undersea vehicles of various types have been produced in Canada (McFarlane, 1995). Canadian companies have also developed an aluminum-oxygen battery that has been tested in an AUV (Stannard et al., 1994).

Canadian scientists have also been evaluating the usefulness of ROVs as scientific platforms, and one DSV was used for university research. Canadian Armed Forces have used DSVs, ROVs, and AUVs for a variety of support missions. While this work represents only a few vehicles, it has been ongoing for more than two decades. The Canadian Hydrographic Service has also operated AUVs.


In Norway, the Defense Research Establishment developed a low-hydrodynamic-drag AUV powered by magnesium-seawater batteries (Apel, 1993). The original mission of the AUV was surveillance; however, it is now occasionally used for research. The AUV has operated under remote control via acoustic link out to ranges of 110 nautical miles with satisfactory results. Using low-voltage magnesium battery, a potential range of 1,100 to 1,200 nautical miles is possible. This battery has one of the highest specific energy specifications to date.


Apel, J. 1993. Norwegian Defense Research Establishment. Mg-Seawater-Battery-Powered Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, January–September 1992. Circulated memo. Laurel, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Asakawa, K.J., J. Kohima, Y. Ito, Y. Shirasaki, and N. Kato. 1993. Development of autonomous underwater vehicle for inspection of underwater cables. Pp. 208–216 in Proceedings, Underwater Intervention '93 held January 18–21, 1993 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Washington, D.C.: The Marine Technology Society.

Given, D. 1991. Underwater technology in the USSR. Oceanus 34(1):67.

ITRI (International Technology Research Institute). 1994. World Technology Evaluation Center Program. Pp. 72–73 in World Technology Evaluation Center Panel Report on Research Submersibles and Undersea Technologies. Baltimore, Maryland: Loyola College of Maryland.

JAMSTEC (Japan Marine Science and Technology Center). 1992. Pp. 1–52 in Long-term Plan of Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. Yokosuka, Japan: JAMSTEC.

McFarlane, J. 1995. Personal communication to Donald W. Perkins, April 14, 1995.

MAST (Marine Science and Technology in the United Kingdom). 1990. P. 145 in Report of the Coordinating Committee for Marine Science and Technology (CCMST). London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Mooney, J.B., H. Ali, R. Blidberg, M.J. DeHaemer, L.L. Gentry, J. Moniz, and D. Walsh. 1996. World Technology Evaluation Center Program. World Technology Evaluation Center Panel Report on Submersibles and Marine Technologies in Russia's Far East and Siberia, in press. Baltimore, Maryland: Loyola College of Maryland, International Technology Research Institute.

Okamura, K. 1990. Ocean technology in Japan: Recent advances, future needs and international collaboration. Journal of the Marine Technology Society 24(1):32–47.

OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). 1993. P. 15 in Statement of Peter A. Johnson before a Hearing of the Subcommittee on Mineral Resources and Development, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on November 4, 1993.

Stannard, J.H., G.D. Deuchars, J.R. Hill, and D. Stockburger. 1995. Sea trials of an aluminum/hydrogen peroxide unmanned underwater vehicle propulsion system. Pp. 181–191 in Proceedings Manual, AUVS '95 held July 10–12, 1995 in Washington, D.C. Arlington, Virginia: Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.
Page 90
Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.
Page 91
Suggested Citation:"A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members." National Research Council. 1996. Undersea Vehicles and National Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5069.
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The United States faces decisions requiring information about the oceans in vastly expanded scales of time and space and from oceanic sectors not accessible with the suite of tools now used by scientists and engineers. Advances in guidance and control, communications, sensors, and other technologies for undersea vehicles can provide an opportunity to understand the oceans' influence on the energy and chemical balance that sustains humankind and to manage and deliver resources from and beneath the sea. This book assesses the state of undersea vehicle technology and opportunities for vehicle applications in science and industry. It provides guidance about vehicle subsystem development priorities and describes how national research can be focused most effectively.

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