A company in Conception Bay South is about to get a lot bigger—it will soon be supplying $15 million worth of underwater sonar systems to a major international defence contractor.

The Newfoundland marine tech business Kraken Sonar Systems will supply newly-developed sonar systems to Elbit Systems Ltd, a company based in Israel.

Elbit will attach the sonar systems to ocean-going drones used to detect underwater explosives.

The drones are unmanned and remotely operated, so they can search for naval mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) without putting people in danger.

Kraken Katfish

This is a model of the Kraken Katfish, an underwater imaging device developed by Kraken Sonar Systems in Conception Bay South. (Kraken Sonar Systems)

The sonar system, called Kraken Active Tow Fish (KATFISH), generates real-time, ultra-high resolution imagery.

It's towed on a stabilized platform, so it's not disrupted by high winds or rough waves.

Kraken expanding facilities, hiring

This multi-year contract will bring more than $15 million to the Newfoundland company, according to David Shea, vice-president of engineering.

Shea said the deal represents a "substantial amount of growth" for Kraken.

The company will add 5,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its facility in C.B.S. to build the systems.

Shea said they're also actively hiring staff and hope to bring in 10 to 12 new people in the coming year.

Drones will detect and destroy IEDs

Elbit's drones are 40-foot vessels called the Seagull Unmanned Surface Vehicle, which are fitted with machine guns and torpedoes to destroy explosives.

Shea said that naval mines and IEDs are still a major threat to the commercial shipping industry, with hundreds of thousands all over the world.

"They're a much bigger problem than people are aware of," he said.

"The potential damage that a mine can do is such a large scale compared to the actual cost of the mine."

Kraken Sonar Inc. was founded in 2012. It focuses on developing advanced sonar systems and sensors.

It currently employs about 25 people.


  • A previous version of this story said the deal was worth $50 million. In fact, that number is $15 million.
    Feb 25, 2016 12:45 PM NT