Due to the added size of weight of Hydroid’s deep water REMUS-600 and 6000 AUVs, it is recommended that customers purchase Hydroid’s optional Launch and Recovery System (LARS) to aid in the transport, launch and recovery of the AUV system.
The self-contained LARS is land, sea, and air shippable in an internally customized standard ISO container, which has been modified to permit the unit to function as a shipboard operations and maintenance center. The LARS allows the vehicle to be operated from a vessel in sea states up to those generated by Beaufort Scale 5 winds.
The vehicle’s launch and recovery system is designed to function off the stern of a ship and can be set up for shipboard operations in a few hours. The launch and recovery system is based a similar operational system, designed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), which has completed over 1000 launch and recovery operations at sea.
The LARS is a self-contained system. The vehicle is placed on a cradle, which is part of the LARS. The vehicle cradle also doubles as a maintenance and shipping stand. The cradle is pinned to the LARS, and the LARS docking head is placed on the nose of the vehicle. A lift/tow line is attached directly to the tow-line release actuator on the vehicle, and then pulled taught by the lifting winch.
|For launch, the LARS includes a built-in A-frame, which tilts the cradle up and over, finally leaving the vehicle hanging by its nose well outboard of the fantail. The cradle supports the vehicle during the first 90 degrees of the LARS A-frame rotation, stabilizing the vehicle until it is a safe distance from the stern. The docking head provides damping to reduce swing in heavy seas. The vehicle is then quickly lowered into the water, tail first, while the ship is making approximately 1-2 knots forward way. While in tow, a “wet checkout” of the vehicle may be performed prior to release. When the ships crew is ready, the vehicle is commanded to release its tow-line and begin its mission.
At the end of the mission, when the vehicle surfaces, it will notify the operators via Iridium or Wi-Fi (depending on distance from the ship) that it is on the surface, and will provide its GPS coordinates. The ship then approaches the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle may be manually driven on the surface via the Wi-Fi connection, reducing the need for ship maneuvering. When nearby, the ship commands the vehicle to release its recovery float and line, which then make an easy target for a grapple toss. Once the line is on-board, the vehicle is then put in tow and the line is attached to the LARS for recovery. Once on deck the vehicle remains in the LARS where it may be prepared for its next mission.
During launch and recovery, the LARS maintains excellent control of the vehicle without any need for tag lines, resulting in an extremely safe and reliable method for launch and recovery. The LARS actuators and winch motors are hydraulic, and a hydraulic power-pack is built in. One operator is required to control the system. A built in operator’s console with proportional controls allows for simple and safe operation.