The German Armed Forces Navy plans to deploy autonomous underwater gliders to monitor submarine cables in the fiber optic network and pipelines, it has now been officially confirmed.
Navy to deploy autonomous gliders
In October, the EU warned of insufficient protection of submarine cables and shortly thereafter announced plans to lay submarine cables across the Arctic to Asia. How to protect these cables and other critical infrastructure has now been demonstrated by the German Navy.
Specifically, a Bundeswahr video talks about the dangers posed by war on the ocean floor and the importance of deep-sea cables. In it, Frank Menning, head of Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 71 (WTD), answers questions about autonomous underwater gliders that collect data on critical infrastructure underwater and transmit it to the appropriate situation center once a day, among other things.
Monitoring the critical infrastructure in the Baltic Sea alone is difficult because of the vast areas involved, Menning admits. At the moment, he is working on a concept with these gliders, which operate autonomously and monitor the seabed.
In addition, there are so-called sea cats or seecats, which can only stay underwater for a few hours, but can fly the length of cables and pipelines underwater and monitor them. In doing so, they move about 10 meters above the infrastructure and collect data on conditions using cameras or sonar.
Other technologies for underwater reconnaissance
Furthermore, Menning speaks of the AIS system (Automatic Identification System), with which every larger ship is equipped. Here, he says, it is possible to evaluate the data and, especially in the case of ships that “do funny things” such as warships, to evaluate them and detect anomalies.
With the help of satellites and sensors, it would also be possible to detect indirect signatures of submarines and thus map a 3D structure underwater to keep an eye on what is happening below the surface of the sea.
The goal, he said, is to strengthen its position in the field of underwater surveillance so that something like the Nordstream gas pipeline blowup does not happen again and is detected early on. Autonomous harbor monitoring is also to be set up as part of the “Harbour Protection” project.