A new diver deployment craft, designed to effortlessly switch between surface and subsurface operations, is due to make its debut in 2021. Developed primarily by UK-based SubSea Craft, VICTA is primarily aimed at the defence market, with an emphasis on special forces missions. The idea has been to provide a vessel that can operate both on and beneath the surface, effectively functioning as a fast response craft/submersible hybrid –described by its maker as a diver delivery unit (DDU).
VICTA's development was influenced and assisted by BAR Technologies, SCISYS (now acquired by CGI), Sonardyne and Diverse Marine. Tim Chicken, SubSea Craft CCO, tells Ship & Boat International: “Applications could include surveillance, intelligence-gathering and recon, but it can also be used for direct action, and support and influence. VICTA could land an advance force within an area ahead of the main force, for example.” Other applications could include protection of naval infrastructure and coastal defence.
The concept is intended to create a sweet spot between a covert recon vessel and a bulkier submarine, offering levels of flexibility and agility that the typical submarine lacks. And, as a 12m x 2.3m, 6tonne unit, VICTA can be packed into a container and transported to locations by road, launched from a mothership or directly dropped into the water from a jetty, thanks to 640mm draught.
VICTA has been fashioned from carbon fibre with a Diab core, selected for its superior strength to fibreglass. The vessel can host two crew and six divers, and can descend to 30m, fully functional at pressures up to 4bar. When VICTA arrives at its area of deployment, the cabin fills with water as the divers prepare to disembark and commence their mission. The divers exit horizontally via gull-wing side doors – or, if deemed necessary, vertically via the vessel’s adjustable sunroof. “The user can park VICTA on the seafloor, and all eight persons can deploy,” Chicken adds. Alternatively, crew can use the DDU to carry a payload of sensors, or transport ROVs to the diver area and launch and operate these vehicles from the VICTA.
The DDU incorporates a hybrid fuel arrangement, powered primarily by a customised 540kW SeaTek diesel engine, which has been fully sub-marinised to withstand complete immersion in saltwater. The engine drives a Kongsberg FF37 waterjet through a Twin Disc MG 5082 gearbox, enabling speeds of up to 40knots when travelling on the surface. In ‘surface mode’, the VICTA has an endurance of 250nm.
When it’s time to descend beneath the surface, VICTA switches to two SubCTech Li-ion battery packs, rated a combined 140kWh. These packs can power the craft in ‘submersible mode’ for up to four hours, equating to a range of 25nm when carrying a full complement. Naturally, given the method of operation, the batteries are secured within waterproof compartments. It should take approximately two minutes for VICTA to transition from surface to submersible operations, SubSea Craft estimates.
Under the surface, a series of hydroplanes kick into action, to grant the DDU high degrees of manoeuvrability and stability. These comprise: two Copenhagen VXL 15kW main thrusters; two Copenhagen XL trim thrusters, forward, rated 3.5kW apiece; and two Copenhagen VM trim thrusters, aft, rated 2kW each. As a submersible, the VICTA has a cruise speed of 6knots, increasing to 8knots when in sprint mode.
(For the full in-depth article and technical particulars, please see Ship & Boat International November/December 2020)