A Possible New Threat to Ports


Photo: “A computer-generated image of a purpose-built SeaHake mod4 ER torpedo launch vessel that is similar to the ones that Atlas Elektronik said were delivered to its undisclosed launch customer. The two Rmah-class vessels that were delivered to the UAE in 2014 have the same stern hatches and seemingly ordinary shipping containers on their decks. (Atlas Elektronik)”

Jane’s 360 reports that the UAE, “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is probably operating innocuous-looking vessels that are armed with the world’s longest-range torpedo: a capability that would enable it to target Iranian Kilo-class submarines at their base.”

This is based on a report that German torpedo manufacturer Atlas Elektronik had exported two “floating platform[s] with torpedo-launching gear….to the UAE in 2014, along with underwater detection equipment.”

Atlas Elektronik is the manufacturer of the world’s longest ranged torpedo, the SeaHake Mod4 ER, with a range of 140 kM (75.6 nautical miles). The manufacturer claims the torpedo is “fitted with innovative navigation and communications technology, enabling extremely precise navigation and control of the torpedo over the entire distance.”

Now, I doubt we have any reason to fear an attack by the UAE Navy, but if they have the capability it cannot be long before others do as well. If a torpedo can be precisely guided to a specific geographic location, it would be fairly easy to target almost anything in a port. It could be done by small UAV, but even that is unnecessary. An agent in port could identify the location of targets by observation and reference to google maps.

During WWII the Soviets commonly attacked Axis held ports by launching unguided torpedoes into them. This could take the concept to a whole new level.

(It may be that the UAE is pioneering a new austere type of ASW vessel equipped only with a towed array for detection and targeting and torpedoes to engage the target. They do not need underwater detection equipment to attack subs in port.)