The AN/BLQ-11 autonomous Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV), formerly called the Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System, was designed for a covert mine countermeasure capability. A 20-foot unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) is designed to be launched, torpedo-style, from Los Angeles- and Virginia-class submarines to survey underwater objects for up to 60 hours.
Originally planned for use in detecting tethered and bottom mines, the vehicle is designed to gather data and, upon completion, to home and dock to the submarine’s 60-foot robotic arm for recovery back through the torpedo launch tube, enabling operators to retrieve data collected and prepare the vehicle for another launch. The vehicle’s intelligence gathering capabilities have been sequentially tested and validated.
It remains the US Navy’s only submarine-qualified 21-in. heavyweight vehicle. The autonomous UUV carries multiple sonar and navigation systems and control software for the mine reconnaissance mission. The BLQ-11 system is a temporary alteration (TEMPALT) and the vehicles and shipboard deployed equipment are all handled and loaded like a torpedo.
In January 2006, several UUV “firsts” were accomplished, including full impulse torpedo tube launch, repetitive helo recovery, following an SSN through 180-degree turns, and successful docking to an SSN while underway. During two sequential attempts in October 2007 tests, each AN/BLQ-11 UUV was successfully launched from a U.S. Navy attack submarine, then returned to the vessel where the system’s robotic arm retrieved the vehicle back into the submarine.