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Orion - Towed Side Scan Sonar

Orion is a towed side scan sonar that fulfills the US Navy's deep-water search requirement down to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet of seawater.

ORION and CURV-21 can be combined into a single integrated search & recovery system capable of being deployed on a USNS T-ATF. The system is based on a .680 fiber-optic umbilical cable and a shared handling system that can switch at sea between side-scan sonar and ROV operations. The system is self-contained and fly-away transportable for worldwide response on vessels of opportunity.
Orion is a dual frequency (57/240 kHz) two body towed side-scan sonar system. The sonar is mounted in a neutrally buoyant tow body which trails aft of the weighted umbilical depressor which decouples the sonar from vessel surface motions providing a more stable platform improving the quality of collected data. The two body sonar system is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds, generally from 1 - 3 knots depending on the required depth. Sonar signals are processed producing both an analog and digital display in order to identify potential targets. The low frequency is primarily used for searching while the higher frequency provides extremely fine details.

Acoustic pingers may be deployed in order to assist an ROV in relocating a target at a later date. Data and sensor control signals are multiplexed, converted to digital signals and transmitted along the 36,000-foot fiber optic tow cable.

Experience shows that the system is capable of swath widths of 300 meters for objects torpedo-sized, 1800 meters for aircraft debris fields, and a maximum swath of 3000 meters for bathymetry and large ship wrecks.


Tow Body
Length - 10 ft
Width - 3 ft 3 in
Height - 3 ft 11 in
Weight - 3,600 lbs
Point Of Contact
Naval Sea Systems Command
Office of Corporate Communications (00D)
Washington, D.C. 20376
(202) 781- 4123
Last Update: 27 February 2017