NAVSEA Wire Service 00-08 (June 8, 2000)

JUN08-04. U.S. Navy tests the Advanced SEAL Delivery System at Pearl Harbor.
by Dick Cole
NAVSEA Public Affairs

The Navy’s special operations forces, referred to as SEALs (Sea-Air-Land), will soon have a new submersible to help them accomplish their mission.

The 65-foot, $230 million sub known as the Advanced SEAL Delivery System, or ASDS, was recently delivered to SEAL Team One for deep water testing at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Navy and Northrop Grumman Ocean Systems will be testing the vessel over the next several months.

“The deep water testing in Hawaii will provide further confidence that this boat will be the revolutionary warfighting machine that it was designed to be,” said Capt. Thomas A. Gardner, Program Manager of NAVSEA’s Deep Submergence Program Office (PMS 395).

The battery-powered electric-motor, 55-ton sub was designed to deliver a SEAL team and their equipment anyplace in the world in a warm and dry environment.

Currently, SEALs are transported aboard converted nuclear submarines and launched from platforms, called dry-dock shelters, attached to the deck of the vessels while submerged.

Large submarines can’t always get in close to the shore to release the SEALs. So they must suit up in SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) gear and swim to shore, or use small surface boats or underwater vessels to get to their objective.

The ASDS will allow the SEALs to remain dry for a longer period of time, ready for combat, and deliver them much closer to their objective. Exit from the ASDS is accomplished through a chamber in the floor of the craft, which has also been manufactured so that it can dock with a parent submarine, much like a deep submergence rescue vehicle.

Before being transported to Pearl Harbor by an Air Force C-5B transport plane, the vessel completed shallow water testing in the Underwater Explosion Test Facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. During this test sequence, ASDS successfully demonstrated its ability to conduct slow-speed submerged maneuvering operations, anchoring procedures and tests of the chamber which allows SEALs to enter and exit the sub while it is submerged.

The sub being tested at Pearl Harbor is the first of six to be constructed under a design and manufacturing development contract begun in 1994.

“In my younger days,” said Gardner, “the P-3 [anti-submarine patrol aircraft] community was the submariner’s closest brother in arms. We coordinated operations to combat the ASW [antisubmarine warfare] threat in the Atlantic and Pacific. Against today’s asymmetric warfare threat, the SEALs and submariners will fight together side by side. With the Dry Deck Shelter, SEAL Delivery Vehicle and the Advanced SEAL Delivery System, the Special Operations Community have become our closest partners.”

The U.S. Navy’s SEAL teams are one of the most feared and respected commando forces in the world. They were formed in 1962 as a maritime counterpart to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces (the men that wear “Green Berets”).

The SEALs have amassed a remarkable history of success in Vietnam, Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, Just Cause in Panama, Desert Shield/Storm in Iraq, Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia.