Unmanned ‘spy ship’ powered by solar energy and designed to avoid detection is found in Scotland

Searching for submarines? Unmanned US ‘spy ship’ powered by solar energy and designed to avoid detection is found off the coast of Scotland

  • A £300,000 Wave Glider boat was found on the coast of Tiree, west Scotland
  • Wave Gliders are used by the US and British navies but it has not been claimed 
  • The Russian Navy developed a near-clone of the Wave Glider called Fugu in 2016 

An unmanned ‘spy ship’ powered by solar energy and designed to avoid detection has been found off the coast of Scotland.

The £300,000 US-made Wave Glider stealth vessel was found on the coast of Tiree, a hundred miles from the UK’s nuclear submarine base at Faslane two weeks ago.

But no country has yet come forward to claim it.

Wave Gliders are only used by the US and British navies, but the Ministry of Defence has said the boat does not belong to the Royal Navy.

An unmanned Wave Glider ‘spy ship’ powered by solar energy and designed to avoid detection has been found on the coast of Tiree, Scotland

The £300,000 was found a hundred miles from the UK’s nuclear submarine base at Faslane two weeks ago but no country has yet come forward to claim it.

The £300,000 was found a hundred miles from the UK’s nuclear submarine base at Faslane two weeks ago but no country has yet come forward to claim it.

The boat does not have navigation lights, a legal requirement for all ships at sea, suggesting it could have been on an intelligence gathering mission.

And naval sources have suggested could have been deployed by the Russians to spy on the movement of British nuclear subs, reported the Daily Mirror.

While Wave Gliders are made by Liquid Robotics, a sister company of the US defence giant Boeing, the Russian Navy developed a near-clone of the Wave Glider called Fugu in 2016.

What is a Wave Glider and how do they work? 

Wave Gliders are unmanned surveillance boats built by the American company Liquid Robotics.

They are used by the British and American navies to monitor the movement of submarines in hostile territories.

The boats tow sensors under water to detect vessels entering or operating in a targeted area and send messages to shore-based operators via satellite.

During a mission to patrol the waters around the Pitcairn Islands, the Wave Glider successfully intercepted and collected data on three vessels whose AIS signatures were unavailable.

A new Wave Glider was released in 2019.

Dave Allen, Chief Executive Officer, Liquid Robotics said at the time: ‘Over the years our customers’ missions have grown in complexity and scale, operating in one of the most challenging environments on Earth – the ocean. 

‘In response we’ve continued to raise the bar for unmanned surface vehicles. 

‘We’ve poured 12 years of lessons learned into this newest Wave Glider to ensure we can meet and exceed our customers’ mission demands.’

 

It is not yet clear whether the boat found in Scotland was a Wave Glider or a Fugu.

HM Coastguard said: ‘The team were called today to reports of an object in the water, once on scene we secured the item. 

‘We are currently trying to find out some more information as to the objects origin and owner. If anyone has any information please get in touch. 

‘Remember if you see something out of place on the coast please dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

It was found around 100 miles north west of Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde at Faslane, Helensburgh, which is the operating base for the UK’s fleet of nuclear submarines.

This includes the Vanguard submarine class which carries the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent as well as the nuclear-powered Astute and Trafalgar hunter-killer classes.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, who have previously used a Wave Glider to monitor fish stocks in the North Sea, have confirmed the boat was not theirs.

Wave Gliders were first developed around 10 years ago, with a more technically sophisticated version launched in 2019.

They are designed to covertly enter hostile territory regarded as too dangerous for manned vessels and monitor the movement of submarines.

The boats tow sensors under water to detect vessels entering or operating in a targeted area and send messages via satellite.

During a mission to patrol the waters around the Pitcairn Islands, the Wave Glider successfully intercepted and collected data on three vessels whose AIS signatures were unavailable.

The Wave Glider can deploy on intelligence gathering missions for months on end.

One vessel completed a 10,000 mile voyage from San Francisco to Australia.

It can only travel at low speeds of between two and three knots, which is one of its major limitations, and can struggle in strong tidal currents.

Wave Gliders have satellite communication and usually have to keep in regular contact with an operator on land. 

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