Royal Navy minehunter uses Thales sonar to locate million dollar system

The sharp-eyed crew of a Royal Navy minehunter in the Gulf used their Thales sonar system to help track down and locate an American towed sonar that had been lost at sea, saving the US Navy more than $1M in the process.

HMS Bangor, a Sandown Class minehunter, used the Thales 2093 sonar to track down the AQS-24 towed sonar when it became detached from a MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopter.

The crew of Bangor were taking part in a major Anglo-French-US exercise in the Gulf region when the incident occurred.

Although the primary aim of the exercise was to keep sea lanes open and detect and classify dummy mines on the ocean floor, the crew were asked to assist the US Navy re-locating their towed sonar.

Sonar 2093 is an operationally proven variable-depth, multi-mode minehunting sonar and is so sensitive it can detect and classify very small objects on the seabed and in the water.  As part of the Sonar 2093 Capability Sustainment Programme, the Royal Navy will soon receive “wideband” capability, which will further enhance the performance of this remarkable sonar system.

"We used our powerful sonar and many years of experience to locate the missing sonar on the seabed," said Royal Navy sailor Nathan Taylor.

"A US dive team joined Bangor with their Seabotix underwater robot and used it to attach a line to the sonar so it could be recovered.”

In doing so they saved their government $1.2m (£942,000) and made Bangor's Commanding Officer a very happy man.

"The find marks a highlight in our deployment to the region and one to remember," said Lieutenant Commander Charlie Luxford.

"This was an exciting job for the lads. Their experience and professionalism really shone through on the day, I'm very proud of how well they got the job done."

Phil Jones, head of Thales UK’s maritime business, said: “This is a fantastic example of what our minehunting sonars can achieve today. The current performance of Sonar 2093 is outstanding, but I’m sure the Royal Navy will be delighted with the improvements they will receive through the Capability Sustainment Programme. I’m glad that the US Navy was able to get its towed sonar back. A real team effort.”

Original copy and photo courtesy of Royal Navy media