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US Navy takes first step towards large unmanned surface vessel

5th November 2023 - 14:32 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


USV Sea Hunter is one of five USVs in USN service and plans have been launched for a large USV. (Photo: USN)

The US Navy already has medium-sized unmanned surface vessels but this new programme has represented the first step towards a potential large capability.

The US Department of the Navy, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has begun a process to investigate what could be possible in terms of developing a Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) by putting a call out to industry.

On 4 November, NAVSEA released a Request for Information (RFI) describing the potential LUSV as ‘a high-endurance, affordable asset capable of weeks-long deployments and trans-oceanic transits.’

It further stated the platform ‘would operate with Carrier Strike Groups, Expeditionary Strike Groups, Surface Action Groups and individual manned combatants.’

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The RFI has been issued on behalf of the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants, Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office which has been developing the requirements for the Detail Design and Construction of a LUSV.

The US Navy already has Overlord and medium USVs, the former being on USV Nomad, USV Mariner and USV Ranger and the latter on USV Seahawk and USV Sea Hunter.

The platforms have been managed and maintain by Leidos under a $95 million contract from the US Navy, an effort which has been attempting to accelerate the integration of autonomous vessel capabilities.

In January 2019, USV Sea Hunter successfully autonomously navigated from San Diego, California, to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and back. The ship navigated without crew on board, except for very short duration boardings by personnel from an escort vessel to check electrical and propulsion systems.

In April 2021, USV Seahawk was delivered to the USN Surface Development Squadron One (SURFDEVRON) in San Diego, California. It was built under a $35.5 million contract awarded by the Office of Naval Research in December 2017.

The Shephard News Team


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