Sea Hunter- The Anti-Submarine Ship with No Crew
The prototype for a Naval ship with no crew was christened the “Sea Hunter” in 2016. On the drawing board since 2010, the new class of autonomous ships is on the move. Last month, it traveled from San Diego to Hawaii and back again with no sailors on board during a test run.
During it’s historic voyage, it was only boarded by personnel from an escort ship occasionally for checking electrical and propulsion systems.
Darpa worked with Leidos, a science and technology company, on the design. Leidos has begun working on a new ship’s hull after being awarded a $43 million contract.
“Autonomous vehicles will likely focus on the ‘dull, dirty or dangerous’ missions sets and could operate around the world’s oceans. For example, an autonomous vessel can conduct hydrographic survey missions, freeing manned ships to accomplish other missions.”
Dan Brintzinghoffer, Leidos’ maritime systems division
“Dull, dirty, or dangerous missions”
The ship reportedly has a high-tech set of navigation tools which allow the ship to watch for collision issues and “safely sail near other vessels in any weather or traffic conditions during the day or night,” according to Military.com.
The Navy originally conceived the autonomous ship as a submarine hunter, not just for “hydrographic surveys.” The Office of Naval Research – ONR- received the ship for open water testing in 2018. They will be working on more capabilities for the vessel.
Darpa wrote in January of 2018,
DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). ONR will continue developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle—the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
Will this vessel ultimately surpass some of the Chinese and Russian innovations? Can the ship call for help? Will there be any AI technology aboard? Some comments asked – Will China or Russia seize the unmanned vessel as it traverses dangerous waters and reverse engineer it? We bet that the ship will have a capable defense, and other nations should stay away. The Navy isn’t talking much about the full capabilities they are aiming for in the Sea Hunter.