Construction of 50th Hammerhead USV-T celebrated

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Occasion marked at A.F. Theriault and Son Ltd.

Construction of 50th Hammerhead USV-T celebrated

By Carla Allen


It’s something you wouldn’t normally associate with success – the destruction of a vessel by gunfire and its subsequent sinking – but in this case it’s something to cheer about.

The Hammerhead USV-T is an unmanned surface vehicle target used to provide training solutions for military agencies in Canada and around the world.

A.F. Theriault & Son Ltd. in Meteghan River, N.S. and Meggitt Training Systems Canada Inc. (MTSC) in Medicine Hat, Alberta, partnered in 2005 to build these innovative craft and recently celebrated construction of their 50th unit.

The shipyard, one of the largest in Atlantic Canada, builds the Hammerhead hull; MTSC is responsible for installing the avionics and providing training assistance.

The Hammerheads were tested on an Alberta lake in 2006. The German navy was the first client, and the hammerheads were deployed off the coast of West Africa in 2007.

Jim Powell, Special Projects & Development for MTSC was on site for the first take down.

He described how one marksman scored an extraordinarily lucky shot with a 27 ml gun when a bullet entered the bow and traveled completely through the boat disabling the electronics, severing the telemetry antennae wiring and damaging the engine. Recovery was possible for that unit, but most Hammerheads end up going down. “They’re designed to be as cheap and disposable as possible. We don’t expect anything back,” said Powell.

In 2009 the Canadian navy took three Hammerheads with them on a two-week tasking to Bermuda

The Hammerheads are sometimes deployed as far away as one kilometer from artillery, although they have been engaged as close as 200 meters.

Depending on the sea state they can zip along at 40 kilometers per hour to simulate a fast inshore attack craft for military training scenarios.

Several fail-safes are built into each unit. A loss of link in the telemetry signal of more than 15 seconds (although this time is adjustable) causes the vessel to throttle down to idle, shift into neutral and perform a starboard turn. Fail-safes have also been built into the microprocessor on board.

Spencer Fraser, general manager of MTSC says they are very hopeful to have more orders. “This is the first on the market with these capabilities. It’s an ideal training tool in the war against terrorism and piracy,” he said. “It’s innovative and available at a fraction of the cost of traditional training tools.”

Units have been sold to the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States, and Germany in addition to Canada. “The Canadian navy has been a huge supporter,” added Fraser.

Arthur Theriault, president of A.F. Theriault & Sons Ltd., says his company has enjoyed working with MTSC on the project. “It’s great to work with companies that understand your business and look to you for that expertise, especially since the boat industry in Atlantic Canada has not been at its best in recent months.”

Meggitt Training Systems Canada Inc. develops, markets, and services advanced aerial target systems for air, land and sea. They are part of Meggitt Training Systems Inc., who supply high quality virtual training and live fire systems to militaries around the world. Employing more than 600 people at its headquarters in Atlanta and at facilities in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Meggitt Training Systems is a worldwide producer of interactive simulation systems designed to provide training in the handling and use of small and supporting arms.

Organizations: Hammerheads, Meggitt, Jim Powell, Special Projects & Development for MTSC A.F. Theriault & Sons

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Alberta, West Africa United Kingdom Bermuda South Africa United States Germany Atlanta Australia Netherlands

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