DSEI 2023 – JFD Shadow Seal Tactical Diving Vehicle

David Oliver

The Scottish company JFD, part of James Fisher and Sons plc, exhibited its advanced four man tactical diving platform, Shadow Seal in the UK for the first time at DSEI 2023

Shadow Seal is 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.

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Shadow Seal offers unparalleled underwater manoeuvrability to Special Operations Forces required to covertly cross the expanding offshore and littoral water gap. Adaptable to suit a variety of ISTAR and combat requirements including special forces infiltration and exfiltration and maritime interdiction operations, the platform provides sophisticated protection to complex, high value platforms and critical infrastructure.

It has been designed to be lightweight and portable, ideal for rapid insertion from to area of operations from a small surface vessel, submarine, helicopter, from the rear ramp of a transport aircraft or a parachute. In addition to four operators, Shadow Seal has storage space for mission critical equipment including communications systems, weapons and ammunition. The craft also has a fully extended 4.12 metre mast with an electro optical system. Its 8 metre-long fibreglass hull weighs 2,500 kg and can carry a payload of up to 750 kg.

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It is powered by batteries and propelled by two directional thrusters positioned above the keel enabling the craft to be bottomed out on the seabed. For diving operations, the operators wear a long duration Tactical Diving Life Support System (TDLSS) such as the JFD Shadow. If diving  operations below the safe limits of oxygen is required, the JFD Excursion TDLSS may be used to enable free swimming diving to a depth of 30 metres.  Shadow Seal also incorporates a built-in breathing system for extended diving operations and emergency use.

The crew control and navigate the craft using a marinised SBS Playstation controller although the craft has the capability to be controlled remotely from a surface ship or from the beach. On the surface it can travel up to 80 nautical miles, or 20 hours at 4.5 knots in sea state 3, and 25 nautical miles, or 7 hours at 3.5 knots when fully submerged. Once at its objective, at a maximum diving depth of 24 metres, Shadow Seal can be beached on the seabed for exfiltration at a later time.

The craft has a closed circuit ballast and trim system that enables neutral buoyancy to be readily achieved in a range of operational environments.

JFD – part of James Fisher and Sons plc – has launched its advanced four man tactical Shadow Seal was launched last May at SOF Week 2023, ahead of delivery to JFD’s United States partner Blue Tide Marine for demonstration and training purposes.

Photos courtesy JFD and D. Oliver