Oceaneering selected by Defense Innovation Unit to test and develop unmanned undersea vehicle prototype


Oceaneering International Inc, based in Houston, Texas, USA, has announced that its aerospace and defence technologies (ADTech) business segment has been awarded a contract by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a US Department of Defense organisation, for the development and testing of the Freedom autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) as a potential large displacement unmanned undersea vehicle (LDUUV) prototype for the US Navy’s Programme Office for Advanced Undersea Systems.

The contract includes a manufacturing readiness review to assess current production capacity and trade-offs that could be performed to speed LDUUV capabilities to the fleet.

The Freedom AUV recently completed a five-year test and development programme, culminating in commercial operations beginning in 2023.


  The Freedom autonomous underwater vehicle 


Its design incorporates unique features that make it well suited for commercial and defence operations, including its multi-thruster design, which provides six degrees of freedom in vehicle manoeuvrability.

With eight independent thrusters, Freedom supports mission success with its ability to conduct low-altitude, precision operations in complex, critical subsea infrastructure environments.

Martin McDonald, Senior Vice President, Subsea Robotics, said: “Oceaneering is pleased to have been selected by the US Navy and the DIU for this programme supporting the development of LDUUV capabilities. The Freedom AUV offers the flexibility needed to support mission- critical operations and we are delighted to be recognised for the flexibility Freedom offers and its suitability to support an LDUUV prototype.”

As a world leader in subsea robotic services, Oceaneering used its remotely operated vehicle (ROV) database, encompassing over six million hours of operation, to identify several technology building blocks (thrusters, connectors, batteries, etc) that are key to the performance and reliability of the Freedom AUV system. These technology building blocks were designed and tested to provide Freedom with a prolonged maintenance-free operating period, which enables sustained subsea operations.

Long-duration reliable performance in subsea environments requires mature maintenance and logistics systems. The Freedom AUV uses the same maintenance and logistics systems used by Oceaneering’s fleet of work-class ROVs, said to be the largest in the world, which last year performed over 450,000 hours of subsea robotic services.