US Navy takes first step towards large unmanned surface vessel
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.’
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.
More from Naval Warfare
While outfitting activities on the first two Hisar-class OPVs have been advancing at Istanbul Naval Shipyard, discussions for additional platforms continue.
The commissioning of SAS King Shaka Zulu, a Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessel, into the South African Navy masks serious problems for the service as fleet availability falls dangerously low and capability atrophies.
Babcock has won contracts worth more than £120 million to support the development and delivery of the Dreadnought-class submarines for the UK’s Royal Navy.
With funding from the European Defence Fund and partner countries, the European Patrol Corvette programme has an opportunity to become the standard bearer for defence procurement and potentially offer a route forward for naval shipbuilding in Europe.
Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile was developed in the early 2000s and delivered to the Norwegian Armed Forces from 2011 to 2015. The new missile will be a collaborative project between Norway and Germany and has been planned to be deployed on both countries' naval vessels.