WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy reports the first sailors have been trained to operate and maintain the Sea Glider undersea drone.
The training, part of the service's Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance system, was conducted by the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, where the Sea Glider is produced.
"This milestone is an important step toward fulfilling the PLUS mission of providing effective, adaptive and persistent surveillance of multiple quiet targets over large littoral areas -- a powerful trump card for ensuring the safety of global waterways," said Capt. Duane Ashton, program manager for unmanned maritime systems within the Navy's Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships.
Sea Glider is an autonomous vehicle that propels itself from the water's surface to the ocean floor, collecting environmental data.
The Persistent Littoral Undersea Surveillance prototype system is designed to detect underwater threats, such as diesel submarines. The PLUS prototype network consists of five Sea Gliders and six Remus 600 unmanned underwater vehicles, which act as sensors. Sea Gliders collect the Remus' data underwater and transmit it from the sea surface to a shore-based station.
The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command says the training took place over one week and included hands-on assembly and testing, launch preparation, launch, piloting, recovery, breakdown and wash-down.
Testing and evaluation of the prototype PLUS system is scheduled to continue until 2015.