Undersea Solutions Group unveiled the Proteus, a dual functioning submarine that can operate both manned and unmanned, and is measuring up to potentially replace the Mark 8 SEAL Delivery Vehicle. Its competition comes from Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, which has been working on two submarines, the Shallow Water Combat Submersible and the Dry Combat Submersible. As their names suggest the Shallow Water Combat Submersible will stay near the surface, hold up to 6 passengers, and weigh approximately 10,000lbs. The Dry Combat Submersible will hold the same number of passengers, but will remain dry and weigh up to 40,000lbs.
What separates the Proteus from the competition is its ability to work as a multifaceted and semi-autonomous vehicle. Proteus is designed to detect mines, plant explosives, carry supplies in and out of combat zones, and pick up SEALs from any location (while also carrying a maximum of 6 people). It will be able to maneuver unmanned like an underwater drone, and will have the travel capacity of 350 – 700 miles. Simply put, Proteus is a technological powerhouse that will cost $10-12 million dollars to develop and weigh a little over 8000lbs. With that price tag it may just be the vehicle Congress chooses as heir to the Mark 8.
- Working Depth (manned): 150 ft.
- Working Depth (unmanned) 200 ft.
- Dimensions: 310″ x 63.5″ x 64″
- Top Speed: 10 knots
- Weight: 8240 lbs.
- Cargo Volume: 170 ft.3 (internal)
- Max. Cargo Weight: 3600 lbs. (in air)
- Masts: 2 (folding)
- Thrusters: 2 – vertical, 2 – horizontal
- Cameras: 4
- Data Recording: 1 Terabyte Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
- Collision Avoidance: 300kHz Multi-Beam Sonar
As impressive as the Proteus is, we can’t help but wonder what types of engagements this submarine will be expected to endure in the near future. Used as a piece of technological warfare, this machine could well likely serve as a new destructive force underwater – a drone for the seas. Gloom and doom foreshadowing aside, the Proteus is revving up to be a highly specialized submarine that seamlessly combines old and new technologies, while maintaining an edge over its competition.