Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel

US Navy: No Wind, No Sailors, No Problem

Crewless Ship 2

We’ve all witnessed the progress of unmanned aerial vehicles in recent years, able to loiter over the battlefield for extended periods of time to reconnoiter and, when necessary, engage the enemy in real-time. Well, now the US Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have picked up on this cue and developed the first crewless ship which is scheduled to be christened and put to sea in a few months.

According to Steve Walker, deputy director of DARPA, “the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ASWCTUV) will be the largest unmanned surface vehicle ever built at 130-feet long. It will be christened in April in Portland, Oregon, and then begin to demonstrate its long-range capabilities over 18 months in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research and the Space and Naval Systems Warfare Command.”

Crewless Ship

“Imagine and unmanned surface vessel following all the laws of the sea and operating with manned surface and unmanned underwater vehicles,” Walker said. “We think the real cost savings will be in operating this vessel at sea compared to how we operate vessels today,” he added. “It could be used for counter-mine missions, reconnaissance and resupply,” he added.

No word on how the ship would maintain itself at sea, particularly in adverse weather conditions, and whether men could be put aboard the vessel should a problem occur. Moreover, it’s not clear if such a ship will be armed as part of the experiment, both to defend itself as well as operate under a wartime footing. Follow-on variants would likely feature a rail gun situated forward of the conning tower. The trimaran design also employs angular stealth characteristics to reduce its radar signature, not unlike the recently christened Zumwalt class of guided missile destroyers.


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