As a Marylander, I spent most of my life believing crabbers were good at catching one specific thing: delicious blue crabs, or, as I call them, Old Bay vectors. But it turns out at least one of them is quite skilled in catching another type of prey: expensive autonomous underwater drones.
Kent County News reports that a crabber snagged a Northrop Grumman-owned drone, which appears to be this REMUS 100 autonomous underwater vehicle manufactured by Konsberg Gruppen, a Norway-based defense contractor. According to the report, which the Baltimore Sun confirmed with Northrop Grumman, David Haas found the drone floating aimlessly upside down in the Chesapeake Bay earlier this month.
"He said it was really foggy and almost hit it," his wife, Laurie Haas, told the News. "We were a little concerned because it could have been very valuable and belong to someone."
The couple eventually returned the drone to Northrop Grumman's Annapolis, Maryland office. The company and several others regularly test underwater drones in the bay, which is a lovely place to go jet skiing, if you're wondering.
I've reached out to Northrop Grumman and Konsberg for more details about what this particular drone was meant to be doing there, but the REMUS 100 looks to be a bit of a jack-of-all-trades.
It is used by the Navy to detect underwater mines and can be outfitted with sonar to perform underwater mapping. It can also be outfitted to do environmental monitoring, which is good because the Chesapeake Bay has a host of pollution issues that lead to dead spots, algal blooms, and reduced crab populations that make it very expensive and frustrating to teach your friends from out of town how to smash them to bits with crab mallets.