The role underwater vehicles play in naval warfare cannot be overemphasized, recent development has seen it been used for direct combat operations. The main reason for these vehicles is to explore or scout for environmental data. These systems provide clandestine and standoff capabilities, they carry out already determined and analyzed missions and offer a physical environment and acoustic imagery data for all relevant bodies.

Underwater Unmanned Vehicles have been referred to as drone vehicles and they are designed specifically to operate underwater without any human driver. These specially designed vehicles have been classified into two categories, they are; the autonomous underwater unmanned vehicle and the remotely controlled or supervised underwater unmanned vehicle. The main difference between these two unmanned vehicles is that the autonomous underwater vehicle as the name aptly implies are those unmanned vehicles that operate independently, meaning that no direct human input is needed for these vehicles to function properly. The remotely controlled or supervised unmanned vehicle are those unmanned vehicles that require human control before they can carry out its programmed duty. These underwater vehicles have been used by various naval and military bodies of various nations. These unmanned vehicles are used by these bodies to not only detect but also to terminate or annihilate underwater mines.

Some of the many features of the unmanned underwater vehicles include;

  • Exploring, scouting, surveillance, and intelligence
  • Submarine warfare
  • Information about underwater operations.
  • Attacks that are time critical

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles have been divided into four classes;

The heavyweight class which has an endurance level of about 40 to 80 hours, which is launched from submarines is one of the classes of unmanned underwater vehicles. The lightweight class is the second class, these unmanned underwater vehicles have an endurance level of about 20 to 40 hours. They were launched from RHIB with the assistance of cranes or retrieval systems. The third class is the large vehicle class, launched from submarines and surface chips, this underwater vehicle has 10 long ton displacements. The last class of these unmanned underwater vehicles is the man-portable class. Launched many allies from small watercraft, these unmanned underwater vehicle have a 10 to 20 hours endurance level and a 30 to 100 lb displacement.


One major issue that has stood in the way of development and use of these unmanned vehicles is the fact that these vehicles encounter difficulty when communicating underwater. This challenge or difficulty has been linked to numerous distortion transmissions and also multiple obstacles that might stand in the way of these vehicles.

The Future

One problem that has plagued the use of these underwater vehicles is that of finding an adequate and efficient power supply source that will be safe to use in close proximity to water. To solve this problem, the US Navy has declared that before the end of 2018, a drone or unmanned underwater vehicle will be developed to solve this problem, also it stated that these new vehicles would be able to stay underwater for as long as 70 days.

Also, they are determined to develop an unmanned vehicle that will be able to perform several functions, meaning that rather than developing over 10 vehicles, they would put the time, energy and resources into developing one that can perform multiple tasks. The US Navy is seeking to investigate and also develop an external underwater unmanned vehicle weapon.


The development and use of these wonderful unmanned underwater vehicles are increasing and more companies are developing more and more ensuring that these vehicles are functional underwater. These underwater vehicles are useful for all those involved in underwater activities.