On 13th July 2016 USSOCOM announced a $166m multi-year contract for Lockheed Martin to design, build, test and maintain a production model of the Dry Combat Submersible (DCS)based on the UOES2 (S351) demonstrator. Lockheed are partnered with The Submergence Group LLC and their British design shop/factory MSUBs. The DCS is a type of SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) which has a dry interior to allow the SEALs to arrive at their target fresher than the usual wet-sub where they have to wear their diving gear at all times.
Importantly the USSOCOM deal is specified as a SURFACE LAUNCHED dry combat submersible. That means that it is not designed to be carried by a submarine (although external docking and carriage may be possible). Putting two-and-two together, this means that the main launch platform is likely to be MV Ocean Trader (ex-Cragside), a Special Warfare Support vessel operated by US Military Sealift Command.
Ocean Trader before renaming
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The project is a natural evolution to the S301i (UOES1) and S351 (UOES2) demonstrators. Originally designed by MSUBs/The submergence Group, the S301i was on lease to USSOCOM by Lockheed Martin Corporation from 2013-15. The S301i started life after the cancellation of the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) as a demonstrator to validate the credibility of a dry combat submersible small enough to fit inside the dry deck shelter (DDS) on a submarine. No actual DDS operations were conducted but the demonstration was considered a success and follow-on UOES-2 ten-man and UOES-3 six-man DCS were ordered, one from UK and one from Italy. The S301 was designed and built by MSUBS Ltd in UK and supplied to the US Navy via their parent company in US, now known as Submergence Group LLC. Lockheed have become involved as the prime contractor.
The S301 was christened 'Marie' by Submergence Group. The conning tower would be removed for DDS operations.
S351 / UOES-2 / Next Gen DCS
The Submergence Group followed up the S301 with the larger S351 which is on extensive trials with SOCOM as the UOES2. This boat is too large for a Dry Deck Shelter but can carry eight combat swimmers plus two crew.
The SOCOM DCS deal appears to cover the production model of the S351.
Weight: 26,000 kg
Crew: 2 crew + 8 PAX
Range: 120nm @ 5kt
Operating depth: 125m max, 60m operating, 30m for diver lock-out
Apparently intended for export, the S302 is slightly larger than the S301i which allows for a cleaner and more conventional layout with X-form control surfaces and a single propeller at the rear. The main diver lock-out hatch is moved amidships from the unusual the stern placement on S301i, and the battery pods are incorporated into a streamlined hull. It is no longer intended for carriage in a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS).
Length: 9.36m (31ft) (vs 7.25m / 24ft fr S301i)
Beam: 2.34m (7.7ft)
Height: 2.34m (7.7ft)
Weight: 14,000 kg (31,000lb) loaded
Depth rating: 100m (328ft)
Maximum lock-out depth: 30m (98ft)
Endurance: 24hrs +
Range: 60nm @ 5kt
Speed: At least 8kt
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