Kraken Robotics to Supply Minehunting Systems to Polish Navy

Canada’s Kraken Robotics Inc. signed a contract to supply minehunting systems to the Polish Navy, the company announced on Sept. 1.

As part of this contract, Kraken will deliver its KATFISH towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS), Tentacle Winch and Autonomous Launch and Recovery System (ALARS) in the second half of 2021. Kraken’s equipment will be integrated onboard the Polish Navy’s new KORMORAN II Mine CounterMeasure (MCMV) vessels in Gdansk, Poland.

Karl Kenny, Kraken President and CEO noted: “We are very pleased to sign this contract to supply our KATFISH and ALARS systems for the Polish Navy’s new minehunting vessels. Kraken is honoured to be working with such a strong NATO ally. Due to confidentiality reasons, Kraken cannot disclose specifics about the contract – other than to say that it is significant and that we expect it to be a strong enabler within other NATO nations. Should the Polish Navy be successful in exporting its new KORMORAN II MCMVs to other countries, we could see additional KATFISH and ALARS sales opportunities in these international markets.”

Captain Piotr Sikora, Chief, Naval Warfare Systems Branch, Armament Division, Polish Navy Inspectorate noted: “The building of new capabilities and acquiring the most advanced equipment is necessary to counter the naval mine threat in the difficult Shallow Water and Very Shallow Water zones. This was our goal during long and complex trials of our first ship, ORP KORMORAN. Kraken’s KATFISH has met all our requirements, as evidenced by our tests at sea. The unique capabilities of this system will provide us with much greater efficiency and will allow us to build strength for the 21st century. We are convinced that with such an advanced Synthetic Aperture Sonar onboard, our new MCM Vessels under the Polish and NATO flag will make a huge contribution to build both national and international security at sea as we face the naval mine challenges of the 21st century.”

KATFISH Towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS)

KATFISH (Kraken’s Active Towfish) is a towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) system developed by Canada’s Kraken Robotics Inc. KATFISH is engineered using Kraken’s innovative and proven SAS technology – now deployed in over 10 countries by leading military and commercial operators.

Kraken KATFISH-180
Kraken Robotics’ KATFISH-180 towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS). Kraken Robotics Photo.

The KATFISH system is comprised of an actively controlled smart towfish, SAS imaging, bathymetry and gap-filler sonars, launch and recovery system, operator console, and visualization software. The towfish may be deployed from either manned vessels or Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV). The entire system is designed to be quickly installed and removed from vessels of opportunity.

A 180 cm AquaPix MINSAS sensor array is the heart of KATFISH™, which provides remarkably sharp 3 cm x 3 cm constant resolution across ranges of 220 meters per side. With tow speeds up to 8 kts and an integral SAS Gap Filler, KATFISH™ provides unprecedented high resolution Area Coverage Rates (ACR) of 3.9 km2 / Hr.

KATFISH acquires over 3 billion pixels per 3km2 per hour of area coverage rate. That’s 30 times more detail than conventional side scan sonar. Advanced algorithms perform thousands of adjustments per second to ensure every pixel displays data with incredible clarity.

The company claims that KATFISH provides the industry’s highest resolution seabed pixels at the lowest cost.

Kraken Tentacle Winch

Kraken Tentacle Winch is a system used to tow the KATFISH towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) system. When coupled with the over boarding system, it transforms into a complete, robust Autonomous Launch and Recovery System (ALARS) making deployment and recovery of the sonar as safe and easy as possible.

The Tentacle Winch is constructed of non-welded aluminum for high strength, low weight, and low magnetic signature. These properties are important for small host vehicles such as Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) and mine counter measures (MCM) vessels.

Kraken Robotics' ALARS with Tentacle Winch
Kraken Robotics’ Autonomous Launch and Recovery System (ALARS) with Tentacle Winch. The ALARS is equipped with a KATFISH-180 towed Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) system. Kraken Robotics Photo.

The Tentacle Winch is a fully electric system which offers significant benefits compared to a hydraulic system in terms of system response and repeatability of winch motions, as well as environmental and efficiency benefits compared to similar hydraulic winches.

Advanced control features come standard on each winch and include:

+ Active Terrain Following (ATF) functionality that allows the Mission Control Computer to adjust cable scope to assist the KATFISH in active terrain following and obstacle avoidance.
+ Auto Tension (AT) keeps a constant specified tension on the tow cable allowing the Tentacle Winch to hold the KATFISH in the docking head during L&R phase without an additional capture mechanism.
+ Auto Render (AR) automatically pays out cable if the cable load exceeds a pre-set threshold.

When paired with the Tentacle Winch, Kraken’s ALARS system turns the winch system into a launch and recovery system without the need for personnel on deck, keeping the crew safe.

The ALARS has been designed and tested to recover the KATFISH in up to sea state 4 at a speed of 6 knots. This process can be conducted from the vessel locally or remotely via the remote link system.

The entire launch and recovery process of the vehicle is continuously monitored through sensors and video link. Video streaming of the docking head and winch are provided to ensure that all functions are operating within acceptable parameters. Furthermore, the ALARS and Tentacle Winch leverages the dynamic motion compensation capability to provide smooth, safe, and robust launch and recovery for remote operations.

These video feeds work in parallel with the Tentacle Winch’s intelligent Active Motion Compensation system which compensates for the motion of the vessel and the A-frame during launch and recovery procedures.

This system mitigates risk and human error during high sea-states, wave action, and dynamic vessel movements by continuously monitoring vessel motion, using a predictive controller to vary tension on the tow cable ensuring safe and secure launch and recovery of the KATFISH.

The A-frame is driven with hydraulic cylinders powered by a dedicated marine hydraulic power unit. The cylinders are trunnion mounted to better withstand shock. The A-frame has three positions, stow, launch and recovery, and tow. The docking head is controlled in pitch by pantograph arms and controlled in roll by dampers.

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