A UK company has nearly completed construction on the world’s most technically advanced ‘surface-submersible’, capable of operating both on and under the water.
Being hailed as something out of a James Bond film, photographs have been released of the construction of the VICTA craft by its developers, Hampshire-based company SubSea Craft.
VICTA, which is being built following a £12 million investment, is set to be sold across the world for primarily defence-orientated missions and ‘advanced sub-aqua tourism’, from 2021.
The craft, which has echoes of James Bond’s sea-diving Lotus Esprit in the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, is controlled by a two-man crew and can carry an additional six commandos.
Diesel engines power VICTA on the water’s surface, achieving speeds of up to 40 knots over a range of 250 nautical miles, while lithium Ion batteries power operations beneath the water’s surface.
Once submerged, VICTA also uses obstacle avoidance sonar technology – the use of sound waves – to prevent it from colliding with anything underwater.
The sonar system is capable of building a 3D impression of the sea floor to help its operators guide and navigate the vessel.
The world’s most technically advanced surface-submersible, made in Britain and set to be sold across the globe, is to hit the water in 2021. New images of the VICTA craft, designed for the defence market, have been released this week
SubSea Craft says: ‘Throughout history, commanders have dreamed of a craft able to travel on the surface before diving to approach a target unseen. That dream is now a reality.’
Funded by a private investor, VICTA has been designed for the defence market, with special forces in mind including the Royal Navy.
Images show the craft’s lower hull being bonded to the upper skin this week as the build enters its final stage.
‘Now that the dynamic shape and form of VICTA has been established, we can get to the truly exciting stages of the build,’ said Scott Verney, SubSea Craft CEO.
VICTA’s form begins to emerge as the hull is bonded to the coachroof, giving shape to the whole craft in new photos released on Monday
Until now, construction has been focused on the fit out of the craft, installing an array of vital components including its powerful batteries. However, this ‘shifted dramatically’ in the last few days, SubSea Craft said
The craft is made of carbon fibre with a Diab core. A lightweight construction many times stronger than fibreglass, VICTA will be faster and more manoeuvrable than comparable craft
VICTA’s diesel engine powers the craft on the surface through an efficient water jet achieving speeds of up to 40 knots over a range of 250 nautical miles
‘Integration of the full technical suite and control systems for the craft will be a game-changing moment.
‘In an uncertain world, nations seek an advantage which VICTA can provide.
‘We are on track for trials and testing this coming winter, with the aim of having the craft operational late 2021.’
The design allows VICTA to be dropped into the sea from a military aircraft or be released from the hull of a Royal Navy sub, before it powers along on the surface of the water.
VICTA includes a number of technological firsts, according to the company, including its engine, which has has been fully ‘sub-marinised’ in order to allow it to withstand complete immersion in salt water.
The craft has echoes of James Bond’s sea-diving Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me, above, also known as Wet Nellie. Like VICTA, Wet Nellie does not maintain a dry interior and requires occupants to wear scuba gear
This is necessary as, unlike a traditional submarine where the interior stays pressurised and water free, the crew and the vessel’s contents are submerged in water.
All of the eight crew on-board wear diving gear because the cockpit floods as the vessel plunges underwater.
VICTA combines characteristics of a fast-moving surface craft with those of a specialist submersible to deliver divers ‘discreetly’.
A ‘rapid transition’ between the two modes, which can happen in just a couple of minutes, is enabled by a fly-by-wire control system – a semi-automatic, computer-regulated aircraft system with an electronic interface.
Capable of operating both on and under the water, VICTA combines the characteristics of a fast surface craft with those of a specialist submersible
Fly-by-wire delivers ‘dynamic stability in all conditions’ and lets the crew better focus on their mission.
Meanwhile, lithium ion batteries enclosed in fully watertight chambers generate sufficient energy to power the submersible for up to four hours – sufficient to cover 25 nautical miles on a single charge.
Once the craft is submerged, the crew have the option of exiting through the doors and swimming in the surrounding waters, before getting back on board and powering the craft back towards the surface.
The craft, which is made of carbon fibre, is both lightweight and ‘many times stronger than fibreglass’ while being faster and more manoeuvrable than comparable craft.
Once complete, acrylic windows, hatches, hinges and life-support system will be installed ahead of comprehensive trials and testing.
Brigadier Tim Chicken, a former Royal Marine commander in Afghanistan who now works for SubSea Craft previously said: ‘Our design is truly cutting edge.
‘VICTA opens up potentially game changing tactical and strategic choices in maritime, joint and special operations.’
Bird’s eye view of VICTA. Dropped from a helicopter, the sleek carbon-fibre speedboat races along the water at 40 knots before turning into a submarine
VICTA is controlled by a two-man crew and can carry an additional six commandos at the back, all equipped with breathing apparatus
Rapid transition between the two modes is enabled by a fly-by-wire control system, which delivers dynamic stability in all conditions, controlled by the two operators at the front
Obstacle avoidance sonar will act as VICTA’s eyes underwater. This is capable of building a 3D impression of the sea floor out down to 330 feet, to help guide and navigate the vessel
Once complete, acrylic windows, hatches, hinges and life-support system will be installed ahead of comprehensive trials and testing
More photos from construction. SubSea Craft calls itself a privately-funded SME (small to medium enterprise) delivering advanced maritime technology
VICTA is a ‘unique and innovative’ British product focused primarily on the defence market but with utility beyond, according to SubSea Craft
SubSea Craft says: ‘Throughout history, commanders have dreamed of a craft able to travel on the surface before diving to approach a target unseen. That dream is now a reality’
A sub-marinised diesel engine powers VICTA on the surface through a highly efficient water jet. Sub-marinised means the engine can withstand complete immersion in salt water