The US Navy’s newly established surface development squadron is set to receive shortly the unmanned surface vessel (USV) Sea Hunter as it begins to ramp up test and trials activities for future autonomous and unmanned platforms.
Developed by Leidos (Stand S4-120), the 40m trimaran-hull Sea Hunter was originally built to meet the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Anti- Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel programme. The vessel has subsequently been transitioned to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to serve as a more generic science and technology testbed.
ONR has already used Sea Hunter for operational experimentation with a variety of mission payloads. Last year Sea Hunter became the first vessel to successfully autonomously navigate from San Diego to Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, and back without a single crew member on board, except very short-duration boardings by personnel from an escort vessel to check electrical and propulsion systems.
Leidos is under contract for a second demonstrator, known as Sea Hunter II, which is currently being built at the USMI shipyard in Mississippi. Delivery is planned in 2020.
The US Navy’s future fleet plan includes the acquisition of both Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) and Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle (LUSV) classes. Leidos told DSEI Daily that it intends to pursue both requirements.