CTV reported that foreign use of the technology was likely even it was first intended for Canadian naval vessels. The Canadian navy will only get to evaluate the Remote Minehunting System for 20 days per year because of defense budget cuts and an unwieldy procurement process.
The Canadian Navy will evaluate the system at its naval base in Esquimalt, British Columbia, over the next 18 months. Canadian taxpayers contributed $20 million in the project developed jointly with the French defense firm Direction des Constructions Navales. Canada will not purchase the homegrown system until 2010.
Western nations are worried that terrorists could use a handful of inexpensive underwater mines to attack commercial shipping. The head of mine and torpedo studies at Defense Research and Development Canada, Dave Hopkin, said, "That is one of the new and emerging roles for this type of a system," adding that the Remote Minehunting System can detect "anything from a barrel full of explosives to a conventional mine shape."
The system uses two small min-submersibles connected by a steel cable. A 26-foot-long submarine operates just below the surface towing a smaller craft that skims just above the sea floor, taking video and sonar readings. The data is then transmitted to a naval support vessel stationed up to five miles away.