In early October 2004, NATO's Allied Command Transformation undertook experimentation trials with mine-hunting autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) together with the German Navy and NATO's Undersea Research Center. The objectives of the trials, held in Kiel Bight, in the western Baltic Sea, were to examine the advantage of AUVs versus traditional mine hunters, conclude analysis of the performance of AUVs for counterterrorism mine countermeasures operations in ports and harbors, determine the limits of a mine-hunting AUV, and test the ability of high-resolution sonars for superclassification (a means to closely identify mine type).
Three AUVs were employed in the weeklong trials from the German mine hunter Bad Bevensen. As part of the challenging exercise, these vehicles investigated a "minegarden" area of the German Navy, in which a complete minefield was laid for training purposes. The commercial-off-the-shelf AUVs operated even in rough weather conditions and showed excellent performance in the waters of the Baltic Sea, as well as in very shallow conditions of less than ten meters. Sonar quality proved excellent and demonstrated that superclassification is possible.