Dry Combat Submersible (DCS)
The Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) project provides for the advanced engineering, manufacturing, testing, and development efforts for a SOF DCS System. Current efforts are using commercial dry submersible prototypes to assess submersible capabilities and reduce risk in the DCS program. The DCS is planned to operate from surface ships. Two commercially built dry submersible prototypes are being manufactured and tested, as well as evaluation of a third leased vehicle. Significant risk reduction initiatives were added in FY 2013 which allowed for validation of test processes, commercial classification processes, and the development of the SOCOM safety certification process which permits SEALs to operate the submersibles. In addition, the prototypes will be used to evaluate the capability enhancing technologies in a relevant environment. Technologies include, but are not limited to Safe Li-Ion batteries, silver zinc batteries, improved sonar systems, advanced battery management system, and a three-dimensional Electro Optical Infrared (EO/IR) Periscope.
The Undersea Mobility Program to provide technologically-advanced undersea mobility platforms for U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command and USSOCOM. Frequent program and strategy changes to the Undersea Mobility Program and a lack of funding priority in critical research, development, testing and evaluation, have delayed the introduction of advanced capabilities for both wet combat submersible replacement and dry combat submersible development. The highly perishable and technical skill sets required to operate wet and dry combat submersibles resident within the Naval Special Warfare community have not been fully exercised and utilized in recent years, thereby increasing capability gaps and risks to the overall program.
Naval Special Warfare is fielding two new undersea platforms -- the Dry Combat Submersible and Shallow Water Combat Submersible. The wet obviously limits the distance that can be travelled based upon the operator’s ability to operate after being exposed to extremely cold water. DCS has a dry interior, enabling longer mission durations with improved comfort and communication, with more space for additional crew. DCS contains a compartment to carry operators, a swimmer lock-in/lock-out compartment, and an aft command center where the pilot and copilot operate the submersible. SWCS is slightly larger than the MK VIII with a longer range, higher payload capacity, more advanced computer andcommunication systems, and improved navigation functionality.
Advanced SEAL Delivery System [ASDS] was the first long-range, dry combat submersible system designed to clandestinely insert and extract Special Operations forces and their combat gear in a full range of threat environments. ASDS transported SOF in a climate controlled environment, reducing the physical risk to the Operators and maximizing their ability to conduct the mission once they’ve arrived at the objective area. But the Advanced SEAL Delivery System is no longer active. US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) realigned the Undersea Mobility Program to comply with the additional oversight requirements pursuant to Section 144 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81). The proposed program structure for fiscal year 2013 includes scaled-down requirements for dry combat submersibles to operate via host surface ship only with moderate capacity and varying endurance.
By 2012 US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) had deferred plans for the foreseeable future to procure Dry Combat Submersible-Light and associated Future Dry Deck Shelter Extension Modifications in light of higher priority requirements and budget constraints. The committee also notes USSOCOM intends to continue forward with modified plans to field a single Dry Combat Submersible variant. By 2012 the Navy had a vessel that was leased for doing some test and evaluation. And there were two prototypes being built, one in the United Kingdom and one in Italy. The eventual program of record was looking at a total of three dry combat submersibles. This would put the Navy in a position to have SEALs [Sea, Air and Land forces] in this case, and other operators, in a dry environment as they transit from point A to point B.
The S-351 mini-sub was a prototype of the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS). This prototype was established as a means of risk reduction prior to a full commitment to the DCS program. Both of these platforms have an operational need to transit with minimum operator fatigue safely to a pre-defined point and covertly deploy and retrieve SEALS. To meet these operational needs, these platforms require upgrades in the areas of situational awareness, human computer collaboration, autopilot, and mid-water-column lock in/lock out. ASSETT has assembled a highly experienced team which includes ASSETT, Draper Lab, and John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab to provide these improvements. These improvements will be provided as a part of a four block effort with each block providing SOCOM with significant improvement in platform performance. The Block 1 effort addressed situational awareness, human computer collaboration and the algorithm development for vehicle control.
DCS used Broad Agency Announcements for Research and Development contracts leveraging commercial technologies, practices and safety classification standards to design, build, test and deliver prototypes to refine and validate potential key performance parameters and attributes for the DCS requirements baseline. The commercial classification of the prototypes would validate the technical maturity to support a milestone B decision. A competitive contract was planned in FY 2016 for an EMD contract for a production representative vessel. The full spectrum of contracting activities was utilized for risk reduction efforts, using existing contracts where appropriate, government agencies and new contracts as necessary.
On 13 July 2016 Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Riviera Beach, Florida, was awarded a $166,000,000, “C” type contract (H92222-16-C-0096), for the design, development, construction, test, production and sustainment of the Dry Combat Submersible system in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. This contract is necessary to fill a capability gap for surface launched dry submersibles which will be used in harsh maritime environments by leveraging commercial submersible technologies and international classing safety certification. The work will be performed in Riviera Beach, Florida; and the United Kingdom, and is expected to have a period of performance of 66 months. This contract was awarded through full and open competition. Thirty-four companies received access to the solicitation which was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Of the 34 companies receiving access to the solicitation, one offer was received. Fiscal 2016 research, development, test, and evaluation funds in the amount of $26,845,792 are being obligated at time of award. This contract will be funded with fiscal 2016 through 2020 research, development, test and evaluation; fiscal 2018 and 2019 procurement; and fiscal 2019 through 2021 operations and maintenance funds. Special Operations Command, Tampa, Florida, is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin teamed with Submergence Group, LLC to develop and with Germanischer Lloyd to commercially classify the S301i dry manned submersible. Lockheed Martin and Submergence Group then completed development of the next generation vehicle designated S302. Both vehicles are dry submersibles that support two operators (pilot and navigator) plus up to six swimmers with the ability to lock them out and in. The dry one-atmosphere environment of these vehicles provides an alternative to traditional wet submersibles being used by the U.S. and international Special Forces communities today, and will deliver operators to their destination in better physical condition to complete a mission.
The vehicles come with an Inertial Navigation System (INS) and Doppler Velocity Log (DVL) for navigation support, an Underwater Telephone (UWT) and UHF radio for communications, and an obstacle avoidance sonar and fathometer. Additional sensors can be added to support specific mission requirements. The S302 design draws heavily on the operationally proven S301i hardware and has improved hydrodynamics and propulsion that contribute to its overall performance upgrades.
Because the major platform, the SSGN [nuclear-powered guided missile submarine], was scheduled for retirement in the mid-2020s, the Navy was preparing to be in a position to build a submarine that is not necessarily tied to the SSGN or to the follow-on vessel. The Navy was looking at alternatives that would mate to a U.S. submarine. However, these prototypes were designed to industry standards first, and then the Navy will learn from the industry standards to make a decision on what the final product will look like. The clandestine nature of a large submarine puts SEALS in a position to gain the element of surprise in certain areas. However, SEALS have good tactics and good procedures that can get close enough with the dry combat submersible to meet most of targets.
On 21 April 2020 General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced that the first Dry Combat Submersible (DCS) featuring GA-EMS’ Lithium-ion Fault Tolerant (LiFT™) battery system as an energy source was accepted by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The LiFT battery system’s modular design and single cell fault tolerance is designed to prevent uncontrolled and catastrophic cascading Lithium-ion cell failure, improving the safety of personnel and platforms while keeping power available for high mission assurance.
|Length||24 ft (7.25 m)||31 ft (9.36 m)|
|Beam||7.7 ft (2.34 m)||7.7 ft (2.34 m)|
|Height||5.8 ft (1.75 m)||7.7 ft (2.34 m)|
|Crane Weight||28,000 lbs (13,000 kg)||28,000 lbs (13,100 kg)|
|Loaded Weight||29,500 lbs (13,380 kg)||31,000 lbs (14,000 kg)|
|Complement||2 Pilots + 6 Divers||2 Pilots + 6 Divers|
|Depth Rating||328 ft (100 m)||328 ft (100 m)|
|LIO* Max Depth||98 ft (30 m)||98 ft (30 m)|
|Endurance||24 hrs||24+ hrs|
|Range||45+ nm at 3 knots||60+ nm at 5 knots|
|Speed||Cruise 3-5 kts; Max 7.5 kts||Upon request|
|*Lock In and Out|