The Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory (NCEL), Port Hueneme, California, is developing equipment to increase the working capability of Navy divers.
SCUBA divers check the CAV in preparation for dive
Underway to dive site
Vehicle begins its dive
CAV operating underwater as divers perform equipment checks
Close-up of control panel
Ballast tanks and large upper propellers are checked
Travelling along the seafloor near Anacapa Island in the Santa Barbara Channel, near Port Heuneme
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Background: The Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory (NCEL), Port Hueneme, California, is developing equipment to increase the working capability of Navy divers. NCEL's new Construction Assistance Vehicle (CAV) is an experimental craft designed to provide free-swimming SCUBA divers with an "underwater pickup truck" capable of delivering nearly a ton of cargo, equipment and divers to and from underwater construction sites to depths of 120 feet.
When CAV is on the surface, two auxiliary surface propellers underneath the catamaran hulls propel the vehicle. As it enters the undersea world, it translates to the larger upper propellers.
All controls in the electro-hydraulically powered craft are actuated mechanically by the diver-operator so that there is no electrical circuitry in the cockpit area. CAV's constant speed electric motors, which power the hydraulic system, are controlled by the operator in the cockpit, using mechanical linkage.
Once at the worksite, the craft's hydraulic and pneumatic power is available to operate diver tools. The salt water ballast system and compressed air system, serving both life support and trim system, are operated by valves in easy view and reach of the operator.
The CAV's cargo bed holds 1,500 pounds of cargo. Awkward loads may be slung beneath the vehicle for delivery to the sea floor.