Shark Reduces Mine Hunting Uncertainty
Article by Shelley Lipke
Courtesy of Lookout Navy News Online
Diver LS Marcel Croteau shows off the Shark Marine Navigator, one piece of Fleet Diving Unit Pacific's new sonar equipment. The device
provides a visual to help divers detect mines and other contacts under water and replaces the older hand held sonar 2Alp.
Photo by Shelley Lipke, Lookout
The advancement in underwater mine hunting technology has made navy clearance diver work on the West Coast safer and faster.
The purchase of two Shark Marine Navigators, a hand-held sonar guidance system, now allows divers to see and identify contacts up to 150 metres away.
"It's essentially a laptop with an XP processor encased in an underwater housing," explains CPO2 Rob DeProy, mine countermeasures chief. "Divers
can't believe how easy they are to use. Because it is a Windows-based computer, everyone knows left click, right click and how to bring up menus."
The sonar head paints a picture of what's up ahead so divers can pick out objects and identify them.
"We can identify cement blocks or cars through this system. The Shark Marine helps eliminate possible false targets and saves divers time," explains
The equipment comes with external attachments such as sonar, GPS units, long-base line tracking systems, and magnetometers. For mine hunting,
clearance divers use the sonar and GPS heads.
"We use the Shark Marine anytime we are required to search for something on the bottom," says CPO2 DeProy.
Before they received this new equipment divers used an acoustic-only hand-held sonar system. It sent out a pulse that reflected back audible
pulses for divers to identify.
"If the divers were not practiced on this system it was difficult for them to interpret what the contacts were. Plus, the divers had to swim much
closer to investigate each contact and see it themselves," said CPO2 DeProy.
The new equipment allows divers to record latitude and longitude coordinates, and take notes they later download to brief the operation team.
"It's always easier to show people rather than describe what you see," says CPO2 DeProy. "However, taking notes underwater is a bit of a
challenge as you have to move your mouse over each letter with thick gloves on, so we created a shorthand system instead."
The Chief discovered Shark Marine three years ago during the Rim of the Pacific exercise. British clearance divers were using it. The equipment
comes from a company in St. Catharines, ON.
They purchased two of the $60,000 units for Operation Podium for security sweeps of the ocean floor. It was used again for the International Fleet
Review to ensure the harbour was safe before warships anchored.
"Exercise Trident Fury is coming up soon and we will be using it then. All the divers prefer it to the hand held sonar system. We are very happy
with its applications," says CPO2 DeProy.