SECRET DELIVERY: Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS)
Divers outside a SSGN with a ASDS in the background. (Courtesy of chinfo.navy.mil.)
If you're a Navy SEAL, you've probably seen the toughest, most extreme conditions and still managed to get the job done. But the most seasoned SEAL wouldn't object to a dry and comfortable underwater ride as opposed to a cold and wet one. The Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) is a mini submarine being developed by Northrop Grumman to covertly transport special operations forces from a submerged submarine to a shoreline or harbor and back. And with its Dry Deck Shelter (DSS), the ASDS can provide waterless medium-range transportation for elite Navy SEALs.
"The capability is greater than we ever expected," said a former
government official familiar with the ASDS. "There is no substitute for this
capability," he said. "It is both covert and persistent."
The first ASDS became operational from its base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 2003 and last year completed its first deployment onboard an attack submarine, the USS Greeneville, to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as a unit of Expeditionary Strike Group One. "It has been used operationally to great advantage and has proven successful," the official said.
Transportable by C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster, the 60-ton ASDS is capable of docking over the hatch of a submarine, bringing aboard 16 SEALs and their equipment, and delivering them to the insertion point. The SEALs would arrive dry and relatively comfortable and rested for their mission. The ASDS represents a great improvement over the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle, a 22-foot-long submersible in which SEALs must wear SCUBA gear, arriving at the insertion point wet and tired.
The first ASDS has yet to be joined by other units, as the program has been slowed by escalating costs and technical problems. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study issued in 2003 cited two major technical problems: noisy propellers and silver-zinc batteries that depleted more quickly than planned.
Port side view of ASDS Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) underway, off the coast of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Courtesy of capitol.northgrum.com)
|ADVANCED SEAL DELIVERY SYSTEM (ASDS) -- SPECIFICATIONS|
|Passengers||Up to 16 SEALs, depending on equipment|
|Dry Weight||55 tons|
|Propulsion||67 hp electric motor (Ag-Zn battery)|
|Masts||2 (Port - periscope, Starboard - Communication + GPS)|
|Sonar||Forward Looking - detect natural/man-made obstacles, Side Looking - terrain & bottom mapping, mine detection|