This research addresses the problem of coordinating multiple autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operations. An intelligent mission executive has been created that uses multiagent technology to control and coordinate multiple AUVs in communication-deficient environments. By incorporating real-time vehicle prediction, blackboard-based hierarchical mission plans, mission optimization, and a distributed multiagent-based paradigm in conjunction with a simple broadcast communication system, this research aims to handle the limitations inherent in underwater operations, namely poor communication, and intelligently control multiple vehicles. In this research, efficiency is evaluated and then compared to the current state of the art in multiple AUV control. The research is then validated in real AUV coordination trials. Results will show that compared to the state of the art, the control system developed and implemented in this research coordinates multiple vehicles more efficiently and is able to function in a range of poor communication environments. These findings are supported by in-water validation trials with heterogeneous AUVs. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.