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This study addresses the problem of steering a group of autonomous underwater vehicles along specified paths while keeping a desired spatial formation. The authors show how passivity-based techniques and consensus tracking theories are brought together to yield a distributed control strategy, by which the problems existing in current literature that a common reference velocity signal being available to all cooperating vehicles are explicitly extended. The desired coordinated behaviour is achieved by means of consensus on the velocity of path parameter of a virtual dynamic leader. The stability of the overall closed-loop system is analysed mathematically by adopting nested Matrosov theorem. To demonstrate the controller proposed, simulations results are presented and discussed.