US Navy prevents Iranian attempt to capture Saildrone Explorer USV
The USN has prevented an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) support ship from capturing a US 5th Fleet USV in the Arabian Gulf.
The USN said that while transiting international waters at around 11 PM local time on 29 August, IRGCN support ship Shahid Baziar was observed towing a Saildrone Explorer USV in an attempt to capture it.
The USN responded immediately with a nearby patrol coastal ship USS Thunderbolt and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26.
Following USN intervention, the IRGCN support ship disconnected its tow line and later departed the area.
The USN said the USV Iranian forces attempted to capture was US government property equipped with sensors, radars, and cameras for navigation and data collection. It added the technology is commercially available and does not store classified or sensitive information.
A day after the incident, Austal USA and Saildrone announced a strategic partnership to combine the former's manufacturing capabilities with the latter’s USV technology.
Austal USA said the partnership provided the USN and other customers ‘a cutting-edge solution for maritime domain awareness, hydrographic survey, and other missions requiring persistent wide area coverage.’
Austal will begin manufacturing the first Saildrone Surveyor vehicles for the USN in October this year.
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