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Undersea pods to hold US war supplies

by Mike Hoffman on January 16, 2013

The Navy wants to build unmanned platforms that it can place in the depths of the the world’s oceans to  have them float to the surface when the military needs the supplies or equipment stored within them.

It sounds almost like the plot from a movie like the Transformers. Machines rising from the bottoms of the oceans to attack the world’s citizens. However, this effort isn’t science fiction.

Engineers with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have begun researching how these platforms could sustain the pressure caused by the depths of the ocean, and then respond to controllers after what could be years or decades without any activity. DARPA calls it “falling up” or “just-in-time payloads.”

“To make this work, we need to address technical challenges like extended survival of nodes under extreme ocean pressure, communications to wake-up the nodes after years of sleep, and efficient launch of payloads to the surface,” said Andy Coon, the DARPA program manager, in a statement.

The U.S. military is transitioning to a Pacific-centric defense strategy that will see units operating in the expansive Pacific region that is often a logistical nightmare. Much of the time and money to operate in the Pacific is spent transporting supplies and equipment throughout the region.

“The goal is to support the Navy with distributed technologies anywhere, anytime over large maritime areas. If we can do this rapidly, we can get close to the areas we need to affect or become widely distributed without delay,” Coon said.

Navy leaders want to use the international waters to their advantage. Navy officials want to keep the supplies and equipment at an arms reach and then summon it when it is needed. Of course, there are plenty of challenges to it, not just technical challenges but political ones. Would the international community allow the U.S. to store their war supplies throughout international waters?

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