Project CETUS will see the design and build of an ‘Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle’ which may one day work alongside Astute-class attack submarines.
Titled “AUV DEMONSTRATOR DESIGN, BUILD AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT CONTRACT”, the contract tender notice has a value of £21.5m. There are currently no other available details aside from some technical details. The following is the notice.
“1. Title: AUV DEMONSTRATOR DESIGN, BUILD AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT CONTRACT
2. Awarding Authority: Ministry of Defence, GB Email: [email protected]. (Andrea Stockton)
3. Contract type: Service contract
Competitive procedure with negotiation
4. Description: Project CETUS: Design, Build and Technical Support of an XL-AUV Demonstrator Vehicle
5. CPV Code(s): 71356000, 73400000, 73420000
6. NUTS code(s): UKK, UKK1, UKK11
7. Main site or location of works, main place of delivery or main place of performance: South West (England), Gloucestershire, Wiltshire And Bristol/Bath Area, Bristol, City Of.
8. Reference attributed by awarding authority: Project Code 702282450
9. Estimated value of requirement: Estimated Value of Contract
10. Listing Deadline: 10.2.2022 (23:59).”
The specifics of the intended design come from a job listing for a Design Engineer for the project posted 28 days ago, which states:
“Primary role is to lead project CETUS; the design and build of a 27 tonne, 12m Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Demonstrator, with specific responsibility for leading on the establishing technical specification and deliverables, running the competition, evaluating tenders and contract placement during FY21/22. Subsequently responsible to ensure requirements and delivery pace are being met and are accepted.
Secondary role is to lead on technical studies exploring AUV concepts and provision of advice to the application of AUV to the future underwater battlespace including those AUV that could complement the replacement Astute Class SSN.”
The somewhat related Project MANTA is already underway, although that’s a 9 metre submarine. You can read more about this from the excellent NavyLookout here.
What exists today?
One platform tthat comes to mind is Orca. Orca is an autonomous underwater vehicle that is under development by Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries for the United States Navy. The Orca is around 15m in length, so just a bit bigger, and the U.S. Navy want five of them. Work has already started, a concept image is shown to illustrate this article.
You can read more about Orca at Naval Technology by clicking here.