Search Sonardyne

Follow us

Command, control and communicate with your remote fleet, from UUV to persistent sensors.

January 20, 2022

Managing the increasingly diverse array of assets in the underwater battlespace can be complex. It doesn’t have to be. Tom Rooney, technical sales manager, explains how you can track, command, control and communicate with your underwater assets – diver, UUV, AUV or persistent seabed sensor – with our USV or vessel of opportunity ready Mini-Ranger 2 USBL system.

Naval warfare – the underwater battlespace – has always been a highly technical discipline. It’s even more so today. There’s a growing fleet of uncrewed, unmanned, robotic and autonomous vessels and vehicles increasing the complexity that navies have to deal with. These platforms – USVs, UUVs or AUVs – are now being widely exploited, across industry and defence, by friendly and not so friendly forces.

Tracking, monitoring, controlling and communicating with, and between, these diverse platforms in the undersea warfare domain poses a number of key challenges. The size, weight and power capacity of UUV/AUVs and seabed sensor nodes, designed for endurance, limit how much hardware you can integrate onto them. Too many devices means lowering your platform’s persistence.

The wide variety of asset and equipment types also potentially introduces additional costs and complexities in terms of operator training, spares support, reliability and maintenance. Your new uncrewed or autonomous assets may well also be operating alongside more traditional underwater operations, such a diver operations, towed body systems and crewed submarine platforms.

Is there a way to simplify command and control (C2) of these diverse platforms in undersea warfare using 21st Century commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) systems? Here at Sonardyne, we not only think so, we know so. Forces we work with are already using a single system that delivers all the command, control and communications capabilities required for all your unmanned surface and underwater assets, including delivering data from intelligent persistent sensors.

Underwater tracking, command and communications in one – Mini-Ranger 2

Our Mini-Ranger 2 Ultra-Short Baseline (USBL) system combines all the tracking, command and communications capability you need in one easy-to-use package. Based on our sixth generation (6G) hardware and Wideband 2 signal architecture, it’s able to simultaneously track up to 10 subsea targets to a standard operating range of 995 m (extendable up to 4,000 m), at the fast update rates needed in the dynamic training or operational environments you operate in.

The small size, weight and resistance to background noise of Mini-Ranger 2’s HPT 3000 transceiver make it ideal for deployment from a small patrol vessel, dive support vessel or USV. Even in high noise environments it will continue to track and communicate with your subsea fleet or subsea nodes or harvest data from your persistent undersea sensors. Because it comes with its own built-in motion reference unit and heading sensors, you can deploy quickly from your RHIB, USV or crewed ship, with no need for calibration routines, and still get superior tracking position accuracy.

Because it’s so versatile, Mini-Ranger 2 is used across many applications; oceanographic, hydrographic and in offshore construction. It’s used for tracking towed bodies, divers, AUVs and UUVs. It’s used in training and live operations, from mine warfare to seismic node positioning. But what can it do for you in the underwater battlespace? Well, most tasks, actually.

Get in command and control of your UUV/AUVs

If you’re looking to operate with multiple vehicles in the water, the optional Mini-Ranger 2 Robotics Pack unlocks the functionality for simultaneously tracking and communicating with multiple UUVs or AUVs, when fitted with one of our interoperable 6G transceivers. That could be Nano AvTrak 6; a small single device that acts as a positioning transponder, modem, communications relay modem and emergency locator transponder – all in one.

Time-stamped position information calculated by Mini-Ranger 2 is transmitted to the UUV embedded within each short acoustic interrogation signal to keep the UUV’s navigation system updated and reduce errors.  Status information and critical data packets can be received from the UUV through Mini-Ranger 2.  These communications can be easily output to third party processing software as required.  Mini-Ranger 2 also enables the synchronisation of UUV timing to less than two microseconds.

It’s a great combination. One of our naval customers in Asia is using it for C2 of their mine countermeasures UUV. With Mini-Ranger 2 at the surface and AvTrak 6 on the UUV, they’re in full control with limited complexity.

Keeping divers safe, secure and on track

If your primary goal is tracking divers, you might want to combine Mini-Ranger 2 with our smallest transponder, Nano. With this pairing, your dive supervisor can monitor the movement and location of each diver in real-time and set various alarms and notifications, should divers stray from the plan or enter areas of danger. It’s a combination that makes Mini-Ranger 2 very useful for training, as well as many operational dive scenarios.

We’ve been working with a Scandinavian navy, which has been using Mini-Ranger 2 to train their special forces. They can track their divers in real-time and then use the tracks after each mission for the debrief. Others also use Mini-Ranger 2 to track divers during more routine tasks, like mine clearance.

Position, mark and release with your ROV

With Mini-Ranger 2, your operator has real-time remotely operated vehicle (ROV) position information, so that the absolute position of any artifact the ROV might interact with can be recorded. But why stop there? Mini-Ranger 2 is USV-ready. So, choosing from a wide range of supported transponders that can be used with Mini-Ranger 2, you can mount your ROV on a USV and then mark, recover or interact with subsea objects or your own equipment completely remotely. Pick from simple marker transponders, such as Nano or our Marker 6, to one of our family of acoustic release transponders, such as the RT 6-1000.

It’s a combination that’s now available to navies and ideal for riskier operations like naval mine clearance. Why send in divers when you can use marine robotics? We’re supporting a customer to bring this capability to market. With their USV, Mini-Ranger 2, a Seatronics Valor ROV and a mine neutralisation system, they’ll be able to find, identify and neutralise contacts all remotely.

Your command, control and communication link to persistent seabed sensors

With Mini-Ranger 2 you can also deploy, communicate and control, via crewed and uncrewed vessels, your seabed sensors, whether that’s to support for persistent intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance (ISR) or environmental monitoring. With Mini-Ranger 2, your sensors can be deployed up to 995 m deep (or 4,000 m with our extended range option) and their as-laid position can be quickly calibrated and reported. Using Mini-Ranger 2’s in-built processing tools, you’ll get a position to similar confidence levels as the GNSS system used to provide vessel position data to the system.

We also have acoustic communication nodes, for your command, control, communications and computers (C4) needs. Our Fetch subsea sensor logging nodes, for example, are commonly used to support third party data gathering and relay. Just integrate your sensor.

In fact, one of our Mini-Ranger 2 users initially bought it to track their AUVs and ROVs in their test range. They’ve since realised they can also use it to make commanding their releases easier and they’re now looking to use it to communicate with their seafloor sensors.

A Swiss army knife for undersea warfare

Mini-Ranger 2 has many other useful features that can make life easier when operating in the underwater battlespace. It’s got a background noise monitoring display, pinger locator algorithms, live diagnostics and can output telegrams to third party systems such as the Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System (WECDIS) and MINTACS post-mission analysis graphs and metrics.

It’s a Swiss army knife for undersea warfare; a single, intuitive to use, low-logistic but reliable system that unlocks a wide variety of capability, allowing you to rationalise your subsea equipment specifications and get the most of your underwater assets.

Want to learn more about how Mini-Ranger 2 can support your undersea command, control and communications? Our experts can help guide you today.


Want to find out more about this article?

Speak to an expert