International Submarine Engineering Ltd. commenced development of the Theseus vehicle in 1992 under contract with the Canadian Department of National Defence as part of the joint US-Canada Spinnaker project.
Theseus was originally developed to lay long lengths of fiber-optic cable under the Arctic ice pack. The vehicle completed successful deployments to the Arctic in 1995 and 1996. During the 1996 deployment, several 220-km cables were laid in 600 meter water depths under a 2.5 meter thick ice pack, establishing an AUV endurance record of 0ver 60 hours – all under ice.
The pressure hull payload bay and sensor suite of this AUV are configurable and can be adapted or replaced with new modules designed to support a wide variety of missions and tasks. The large payload bay of the vehicle suits it to carrying a number of smaller AUVs. The variable ballast system in the vehicle also enables it to be “parked” on the bottom for extended periods of time, and then re-activated.