POTTSTOWN — VideoRay has begun shipping completed Defender underwater robot systems to the U.S. Navy. The units are part of a $49 million dollar contract the Navy has placed with the Pottstown manufacturer of underwater remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs.
The latest order for 17 Defender remotely operated systems was announced in August. It is the second order of the contract.
The units will be used by the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) program for defense and security operations including very shallow water, littoral mine counter measures, port security missions and hull and pier inspection, according to the company.
The systems are being assembled and tested in VideoRay’s Pottstown facility. The systems are being delivered with solutions from Greensea, Blueprint Subsea, Nortek and Eddyfi. The best-in class sensors, tooling and software are integrated onto the Defender ROV platform, according to the company.
A spokesman for VideoRay could not say how many units were delivered in the first shipment. However, the company previously told MediaNews Group that it expected all 17 units to be completed and delivered before the end of the calendar year.
The contract expires in July 2025. The company expects more orders will be placed as part of the contract.
The capabilities of the Defender have been cited from a military perspective in recent publications. In the U.S. Navy publication, “THE PRIMER: Support to the Fleet — Expeditionary Mine Countermeasures,” — use of the Defender is described in its “First Real-World Response” for EOD purposes:
“The (VideoRay Defender) systems were formally introduced to fleet operators in March of 2020 when the equipment manufacturers provided training to units from EOD Group 1 and 2 in San Diego and Virginia Beach. During the training at the Virginia Beach location, EOD Senior Chief Jeffrey Spengler stationed at the EOD shore detachment at Norfolk Naval Base said the new systems were ‘more user friendly and capable’ than their predecessor. He likened the VideoRay Defender to a ‘brute’ with the required thrust to work in more challenging currents,” a VideoRay press released quoted.
Scott Bentley, CEO of VideoRay, said last month that he expects the order from the U.S. Navy to have a positive economic impact on the Pottstown-area, in terms of additional hiring by the company and spending in the region.
VideoRay delivered its first ROV in 2000. Its underwater robots help prevent terrorism, find and retrieve objects, inspect infrastructure both inland and offshore and keep divers safe from hazardous conditions.
In 2012, the company relocated its headquarters from Phoenixville to Pottstown. Bentley purchased the former Levitz furniture store at 212 E. High St. in February 2012. In December of that year, after an estimated $1 million in renovations, the facility opened.