- As the last Typhoon class submarine is retired, another underwater giant is starting construction.
- The German MUM (Modifiable Underwater Mothership) will be the largest autonomous underwater vehicle in the world.
World’s Largest Submarine Drone Being Built In Germany, states a Naval News source.
Uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) are getting bigger
Now German shipbuilder TKMS (Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems) is preparing to start construction of their MUM underwater drone. This drone is much larger than any known type.
Assembly of the prototype MUM (Modifiable Underwater Mothership) is expected to start in the summer. Overall length of the prototype will be around 25 Meters (82 feet).
Size Matters: The Typhoon Of UUVs
At face value this length is arounds the same as the U.S. Navy’s Orca XLUUV (extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicle) with that design’s extended payload section included. But in the same way that the famous Russian Typhoon Class submarine was much larger than the similar-length U.S. Navy’s Ohio class submarine, the MUM is twice as wide. TKMS term this a ‘flat fish’ type design.
One advantage of the wide layout is increased stability when surfaced. In its civilian role it is not intended to spend time at periscope depth, instead being either deep and fully submerged, or on the surface. The width also allows the sail, which is itself modular, to be mounted on one side. Other XLUUVs do not have sails, but the MUM is of course, in a different league in terms of scale.
The inner hull is constructed out of sections which are sized off 10 foot or 20 foot shipping containers. Other XLUUVs, notably British and Australian designs, are also designed around the size of shipping containers. But those are sized to fit inside them, whereas MUM is built around them. This is a unique concept in the submarine world which also makes it easier to transport when broken into sections.
TKMS have conceived this as a civilian design. In essence it is a large flexible “work horse” UUV able to incorporate user-defined payloads. Because of its size and power system it excels with comparably heavy, power-hungry, payloads which cannot be carried by smaller craft. Potential roles include offshore services such as inspection, maintenance and repair. It can also aid exploration offshore oil and gas fields, or marine minerals. In these roles it could take core samples via a drill, or support seismic surveying. Roles could also include law enforcement such as inspection of strategic national infrastructure.
Although civilian in nature, no doubt Navy’s will be watching its development closely.
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Source: Naval News