Get Ready, Russia and China: The Navy’s Robot Sub-Hunter Is Sailing Closer to Reality

    Michael Peck

    Security, North America

    And that is a really big deal. 

    The U.S. Navy’s robot submarine chaser is sailing closer to deployment.

    Sea Hunter, DARPA’s prototype automated warship, has been transferred to the Office of Naval Research for further development. From there, it’s possible that the vessel could join the fleet this year.

    “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),” read the DARPA announcement.

    Sea Hunter began life in 2010 as DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) project, which aimed to design a crewless vessel that could autonomously sail to distant waters in search of diesel submarines. The MDUSV carries no weapons but does possess a powerful sonar: once a target is detected—say, a seventeen-knot Russian Kilo-class sub—the twenty-seven-knot Sea Hunter is fast enough to continuously maintain contact until armed ships and planes show up to finish the job.

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