Special Operations: June 5, 2004

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The U.S. Navy SEALs are finally getting the first of their six ASDS (Advanced Seal Delivery Systems), after eight years of development The ASDS are 65 foot long, 60 ton mini-submarines. Battery powered and with a crew of two, the ASDS can carry up to 14 passengers (fewer if a lot of equipment is being brought along, the usual number of passengers is expected to be eight.) With a max range of 200 kilometers, top speed of 14 kilometers an hour and max diving depth of 200 feet, the ASDS operates from a nuclear submarine equipped to carry it on its deck. The ASDS is equipped with passive and active SONAR, radar and an electronic periscope (that uses a video camera, not the traditional optics.)

While a nice piece of engineering, each ASDS will cost over $300 million. Fortunately for the navy, SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is paying for the ASDS boats. That means that army rangers and marine recon troops will also train to use ASDS. Delta Force will probably get to try them out as well. Little is said publicly about how often, and where, ASDS will be used. The types of missions ASDS was designed for are often kept secret for a long time. 

The ASDS first production boat has been training and undergoing tests in Hawaii for the last three years, and is expected to officially enter service this Fall. The ASDS boat also spent some time in the Persian Gulf for testing and training.

 


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