Saab Seaeye Leopard system supplied to Spanish Navy for submarine escape and rescue
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19 April 2023
A multi-million pound complete Saab Seaeye Leopard system has been supplied to the Spanish Navy for submarine escape and rescue, and underwater intervention.
The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) acquired the Seaeye Leopard electric remotely operated robotic vehicle system for the Spanish Navy to fulfil the responsibilities of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office and provide diving support.
It is the first codification by NATO for a remotely operated vehicle meeting their standards. The Leopard also met the Spanish Navy’s full ISO/IEE 15288 standards for remotely operated vehicles, along with their standards for the control cabin.
The Leopard can locate and survey a distressed submarine using its array of sonar systems and cameras to provide both colour zoom and low-light black and white video images for rescue planners. In urgent rescue situations the Leopard can work tirelessly 24 hours a day, for days on end in challenging conditions.
According to the information provided by the Spanish Navy through NSPA the Leopard will also contribute enormously to the Spanish Navy underwater intervention capability, especially in the areas of salvage operations, underwater search and reconnaissance and diving support activities.
Assisting in the procurement process has been Saab Seaeye’s Spanish-based distributor, Marine Vision, who will also engage in on-going support.
To help keep the crew alive, the Seaeye Leopard can transport and insert pods carrying emergency life support stores into the submarine - and attach ventilation hoses. For debris clearance the Leopard has powerful work-class manipulators, along with a six-inch rotary disc cutter and a 38mm anvil cutter.
The complete package includes a tether management system which acts as a subsea garage for the Leopard and from which it is flown when reaching the operational depth. The Leopard was chosen over its hydraulic alternative as the Leopard is typically 50% more efficient, 30% more compact and 50% lighter than an equivalent hydraulic vehicle.
Umbilical cables and handling systems are also significantly smaller and lighter, leading to lower deck loading requirements, smaller deck footprints, smaller vessel requirements and smaller transportation needs.
Included is a pilot’s control cabin and the entire system, or relevant free-swimming or tether-management configurations, is in the process of being certified for air transportation aboard an Airbus A400M to fulfil a global role in rescue operations.
Powerful and manoeuvrable
The most powerful of its size in the world, the Seaeye Leopard has 11 powerful thrusters and with its iCON™ intelligent control is more highly manoeuvrable in strong currents than a hydraulic vehicle and, being acoustically quieter, can produce more accurate sonar data.
Saab Seaeye’s intelligent control system offers pilots better handling characteristics - including pitch and roll stabilisation - for best quality survey data, whilst delivering stable flight even when fitted with large tools and transporting heavy loads.
Importantly, iCON™ gives clear and enhanced information to the operator and pilot whilst independently managing each device on the vehicle, including auto redundancy, ensuring the vehicle keeps working even with multiple equipment damage.
Included in the procurement is a complete simulator system for pilot training that will simulate the operation of the Leopard during a rescue mission.