Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Navy Underwater Vehicles Vanish

Four unmanned underwater vehicles employed by the Navy on a routine training mission have vanished without a trace off the coast of Virginia, according to Hamptonroads.com:

The Navy, Coast Guard and local authorities were searching for the missing vehicles in the Thimble Shoals Channel between the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a Navy news release said.

Communication was lost with four of the 13 unmanned vehicles Sunday about 1 p.m. while the vehicles were using bottom-mapping sonar to look for mine-like contacts in the water as part of the training. Search and recovery operations began immediately.

Efforts continued Monday using small-craft, shore-based teams, air assets and marine mammal systems, which could include sea lions and dolphins trained to hunt mines.

The cause of the vehicles’ disappearance is under investigation.