GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The centerpiece of the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise or ANTEX, is the testing of their underwater defense system called Argus.
An underwater unmanned vessel, or UUV, called REMUS was on display as the project testing continues. Just off the Port of Gulfport in the Mississippi Sound, the Remus roams the water.
It’s a 14-foot long, 700-800 pound that works as a drone mapping ocean topography but in this case, it’s part of the Argus defense system.
"It’s called Argus because Argus is the Greek God with 1,000 eyes,” said Elena McCarthy, Argus program director.
Those eyes scan under the sea and serve as a submerged first line of defense outside our nation’s civilian and military ports.
“We’re designed to come into a port, we’re called an expeditionary system,” McCarthy said. “We can very quickly come into a port and set up quickly to provide some security to some high-value assets. Maybe a military ship or some ship with very sensitive cargo. We can provide protection from undersea threats. There’s not a lot of technology that can determine threats that might be approaching.”
Threats such as divers or, more likely, from other unfriendly UUVs.
“Much like aerial drones, which can be weaponized, they could drop a bomb or a small explosive,” she said. “We worry about the same thing with UUVs.”
McCarthy also says some of the other reasons why the Argus test has been successful because the local Naval Oceanographic folks have UUVs available and because of the tremendous cooperation they received from stevedores and other officials from the Port of Gulfport.
“We were thrilled to come down here and use all their vehicles as threats,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve tested against more than one UUV at a time. We learned a great deal from the stevedores here about how we deploy our system. There’s some amazing riggers here we learned from.”
The Navy is working with the Port, the Coast Guard, NOAA and the Department of Homeland Security on the Argus project.