Surface Forces: September 8, 2004


The U.S. Navy put its first AQS-20, or Remote Minehunting System (RMS),  into service aboard the destroyer USS Momsen. The RMS is the first unmanned, remotely operated vehicle designed for hunting mines, and working with the ships sonar and combat control systems. next year. RMS is a miniature robotic submarine (23 feet long, four feet in diameter) that runs just below the surface, with only a mast (for getting air to the RMS's diesel engine and to hold radio antennas and a video cam that looks out for obstacles on the surface) above the waterline. The front of the RMS holds a sonar that helps with navigation by looking for underwater obstacles. RMS tows an AQS-20 variable depth (it can change it's depth to get better coverage) sonar. This system maps an area, showing where objects, that might be mines, are. RMS carries enough fuel for 24 hours of operations at a speed of about 20 kilometers an hour. RMS can be set to survey an area and return to the ship that launched it. A controller on the ship can give RMS specific navigation commands, or change earlier ones. In many cases, the RMS survey will show areas free of any suspected mines, and this allows friendly ships to go where they want to go. The AQS-20 is being upgraded to include an underwater camera that will broadcast, back to the ship, high resolution images of underwater objects. Six more destroyers will get the RMS, and many of the new Littoral Combat Ships will have it as well. 


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