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Amid the hosting of SOF Week 2023 by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in Tampa, Florida from 8-11 May 2023, international underwater capability specialist JFD has launched a new four-man tactical diving platform.

Known as Shadow Seal, the system is billed by JFD as an adaptable and extremely capable lightweight tactical diving vehicle (TDV) able to transport a pilot, navigator and two passengers in surface, semi-submerged and submerged mode out to ranges of 80 nautical miles (148.2 km).

“Shadow Seal offers unparalleled underwater manoeuvrability to special operations forces required to covertly cross the expanding offshore and littoral water gap,” the company noted in a 9 May press release. “Adaptable to suit a variety of ISTAR and combat requirements, the platform provides sophisticated protection to complex, high-value platforms and critical infrastructure.”

A strategic partnership with US maritime logistics provider Blue Tide Marine (BTM) was announced in March 2022 as part of JFD’s commitment to expanding its US presence and subsea maritime capability. BTM subsequently purchased the first production model of Shadow Seal to provide local demonstration and training services. This was a “significant milestone in JFD’s journey towards a full turnkey US capability, inclusive of TDV provision and follow-on support services throughout the product lifecycle”, the company stated.

Factory acceptance trials and harbour acceptance trials of Shadow Seal are currently underway prior to delivery to BTM in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the coming months. JFD will continue to offer support and training as the craft is delivered to the US. (Photo: JFD/BTM)

At SOF Week 2023 JFD and BTM displayed a prototype model of Shadow Seal (MK1D).

“We are excited to bring this collaborative effort of JFD and BTM to the subsea sector and look forward to the delivery of the Shadow Seal,” BTM President Bob Pudney was quoted as saying in the JFD press release. “This multi-mission-capable platform provides an opportunity to modernise the undersea capabilities of SOCOM, the US Navy and other agency partners with advanced mission-focused technology, extended range, and offers practical training and in service support,” Pudney said.

Rob Hales, JFD Managing Director, added, “The BTM partnership ensures that we can offer innovative solutions to modern day challenges, such as the current capability gap in littoral manoeuvre, with first-class in-country demonstration and training. JFD is committed to further developing our in-country capabilities, including through-life support services, and this upcoming, important delivery milestone reflects a significant milestone in our mission to better serve the US and wider Americas undersea markets.”

Shadow Seal was first developed by Ortega Submersibles in The Netherlands, which was acquired by JFD in 2019, and has since undergone further development and trials. Recent upgrades included in the latest Shadow Seal TDV include an expansion of available battery power, enhancing the range and endurance capacity of the craft.

Peter Felstead