ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy Sea Systems Command in Annapolis, Md., took delivery of the first Advanced SEAL Delivery System on Thursday, a long-awaited event for a SEAL community eager to try out the “Seaquest”-like mini-submarine that can take them and their combat gear to and from hostile shores.

Technically known as a “dry submersible,” the ASDS is a mini-submarine designed by Northrop Grumman’s Oceanic and Naval Systems division to carry small groups of SEALs underwater for long distances, at high speeds (the precise figures are classified).

Calling the ASDS a “first-of-its-kind system,” and “a major milestone,” Navy Capt. Joe Fallone, ASDS Program Manager at Naval Sea Systems Command, said during the delivery ceremony that the sub will provide “a new level of operational capability to SEAL forces in high-threat areas.”

The sub is stored inside the hull of a conventional “mother” submarine, which acts as both the launch and recover platform for ASDS during missions.

Not for claustrophobics, the ASDS features tight quarters and is driven by a pilot, who is assisted by a SEAL navigator. Behind the crew, stacked like sardines in a can, sits a SEAL squad of eight men. Also inside the pressurized chamber internal chamber is a well. SEALs can simply slide into the well and swim right out of the sub into the water, and come back in the same way.

At first, the mini-sub only will be deployable from some modified Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines. Eventually, however, four Trident-class SSBN fleet ballistic missile submarines will be retrofitted to carry the ASDS, as will Virginia-class attack submarines and the last of the Seawolf class, the Jimmy Carter (SSN 23).

Like the SEALs themselves, the ASDS belongs to the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Tampa, Fla., organization tasked with oversight of all the U.S. military unconventional warfare forces.

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