The US Navy’s vessel, Sea Hunter, has become the first ship to successfully patrol open waters autonomously. The unmanned surface vessel sailed from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and back sans any crew, reported The Maritime Executive.
Th defence contractor of the vessel, Leidos, announced the feat in their press release on 31 January 2019, but it did not reveal the exact dates of the mission.
The Big Picture
Sea Hunter could herald a new future for naval defence with new technology that makes the vessel autonomous. This could make the vessel an entirely unique type of stealthy warship.
Amidst mission testing, Leidos is already developing its sister ship Sea Hunter II, reported The Drive.
“Sea Hunter can shadow diesel-electric submarines for months, without human contact, across thousands of miles of ocean and chase them out of strategic waters.”
What is the Idea?
An agency of the US Department of Defense that focuses on developing new technologies for military use first designed the vessel in 2016. Then it was called Anti-submarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV).
The focus was on creating smaller, unmanned defence vessels that would be hard to track by enemy ships. Lack of a crew also means that the vessel could operate without harming sailors’ lives reported National Defense Magazine.
The trimaran drone vessel, weighing 140 pounds, is slated to be more precise than a larger vessel and much cheaper than a manned ship as well.
And this is just the starting point for Sea Hunter. The US Navy wants to eventually evolve their design to create a vessel that will cover vast expanses for months on end. The kind of endurance and technology developments foreseen in this vessel and subsequent combatant ones will take their naval defence to unprecedented levels.
Submarine Defence a Priority World Over
In other parts of the world, China and Russia are also working to evolve their submarine capabilities.
Sea Hunter is, in part, created to counter Chinese maritime advancements and put US efforts on the offensive.
So far, the abilities of the Sea Hunter are yet to be fully explored, but it is definitely a new step forward for naval warfare.
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