Kraken Sonar set for growth after deal with Israeli company

Rep estimates multi-year plans worth more than $15 million

Published on February 24, 2016
The 12-metre-long Seagull unmanned surface vessel from Israel-based Elbit Systems is being fitted with Kraken Sonar System’s KATFISH sonar tech, for use in detecting underwater mines, underwater surveillance and reconnaissance missions. — Submitted photo

Kraken Sonar Systems of Conception Bay South is taking on new hires and changing location, in an expansion of local operations being spurred by a newly announced deal with defence contractor Elbit Systems Ltd.

Kraken Sonar Systems is a subsidiary of Kraken Inc., led by president and CEO Karl Kenny and focused on technology allowing for fast, high-quality underwater imaging.

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Its deal with Elbit, based in Israel, will see Kraken’s KATFISH towed sonar system made part of Elbit’s “Seagull” unmanned surface vehicle (USV), providing the ability to generate high-resolution underwater images and seafloor mapping in real time.

The Seagull is equipped to launch and recover sensors, identify and destroy underwater mines and mark any “stealthy” diesel-electric submarines in a given area, according to Kraken. It can all be operated remotely from shore, or from other ships at sea, on missions lasting more than four days at any one time. Apart from Kraken’s tech, it carries a .50-calibre machine gun and wire-guided torpedoes.

“Elbit’s Seagull USV is one of the most advanced ocean drones in the world — one that will save lives,” said Kenny, in a statement Tuesday.

“When our synthetic aperture sonar is integrated on Elbit’s Seagull USV, the system can provide remotely operated, unmanned, end-to-end mine hunting operations. These ocean drones can detect very small objects hidden on the seabed and enter confined spaces where underwater explosives are likely to be hidden. Since robotic systems can be remotely operated, their use can remove people from very dangerous missions — in essence, taking the sailor out of the minefield.”

With a multi-year outlook, a source with Kraken said the agreement is worth $15 million or more.

It is an important contribution to the company’s momentum, with a $1.5-million contract with an unnamed defence contractor having been announced in November 2015. And, earlier this month, news of a $495,000, non-refundable financial contribution from the Government of Canada (through the National Research Council of Canada’s industrial research assistance program), for the KATFISH system.

With the sales and government support, Kraken is now moving into a newly leased, 5,000 square-foot office and manufacturing building in C.B.S., not far from its existing location.

The Telegram was told the company is also taking on new staff — engineers, technologists, technicians. No exact numbers were readily available, but the company is interviewing on one position, with two job descriptions in the process of being drawn up. Those positions are expected to be filled by the spring.

“I suspect that it is closer to (likely exceeding) 10 positions over the next 12 to 18 months,” a spokeswoman stated.