U.S. Navy engineers have invented a novel snap hook for launching and recovering large underwater drones. The patented mechanical device is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.
The MK18 Kingfish UUV is large, heavy and the Navy uses a cable winch to launch and recover it.
Using a common steel snap hook, attaching or detaching the cable to the MK18 requires a sailor to lean and reach out of the boat with their hands while other sailors steady the UUV with gaffing poles. This is a challenging task in rough seas and comes with some risk of injury.
Commercially available hooks with dual direction latches are not rated for the necessary weights, according to the Navy.
This led the engineers to design and test their own hook, which can be attached to the load for recovery using a handheld pole.
In one version, the bent wire acts as the latch and spring. When the latch is bent in either direction the difference in radii of the wire causes a spring effect to oppose any motion.
The latch guard and stop prevent the latch from getting pulled out of the hook. It also provides an end stop from over opening the latch.
To launch the load after it is positioned in the water the mainline is made slack and the secondary line is pulled, which pivots the load onto the latch for release.
The hook may be made of aluminum, titanium, 15-5 stainless steel, 17-4 stainless steel, carbon fiber, or carbon steel.
One version of the Navy’s snap hook weighs less than 300 grams and was designed specifically for launch and recovery of 1,000-pound loads with a 2X safety factor.
- Allows the launch and capture of objects from a distance by means of a handheld pole, improving user safety
- Lightweight, strong, and secure
- Quick and easy to use
- Businesses can commercialize the device by licensing U.S. Patents 9,994,430 and 10,436,241 from the Navy
- License fees paid to the Navy are negotiable
- TechLink guides businesses through evaluation and licensing; services provided at no cost