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US Navy Sea Hunter USV Will Operate With Carrier Strike Group


The Navy’s experimentation squadron for unmanned surface vessels has big plans for its second year that include integrating the Sea Hunter Medium USV into a carrier strike group and leading a large U.S. Pacific Fleet experiment this summer.


US Navy Sea Hunter USV Will Operate With Carrier Strike Group 925 001 US Navy Sea Hunter Unmanned Surface Vessel (Picture source: US Navy)


The Surface Development Squadron 1 was established last May to oversee fleet familiarization, training and tactics development of USVs, as well as the manning, training and equipping of the Zumwalt-class destroyers. In less than a year – and just four months after receiving the first Sea Hunter hull – the organization has done much to develop its staff, draw out a plan for its testing requirements and begin to get fleet sailors familiar and comfortable with the notion of operating alongside a USV, the SURFDEVRON commodore told USNI News.

While the Sea Hunter vessel had already operated with a carrier strike group before coming under the command of SURFDEVRON, Adams said he would do another at-sea test soon where “Sea Hunter will be fully integrated tactically and operationally into a strike group, and that strike group and their warfare commanders are going to employ her tactically, and she will be controlled from the sea.”

He said it would be the first event of that scale under the SURFDEVRON and would hit on several of the squadrons’ missions: “fleet familiarization, fleet training, operator training, advancing the program-of-record control system which is going to be used.” He noted that experts from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center would participate in the event to help collect data and feedback from that event – particularly on the USV control system – which will then be fed into tactics development and the acquisition process.

Sea Hunter 1 and in-construction Sea Hunter 2 are both prototype ships from DARPA and the Office of Naval Research, and two Overlord Large USVs come from a Defense Department Strategic Capabilities Office initiative – but all four vehicles will be transitioned into the SURFDEVRON, and lessons learned will inform new Navy programs of record for a MUSV and LUSV. In fact, by the end of FY 2021 SURFDEVRON will have those four prototype vessels under its command and by FY 2022 or 2023 will have seven total vessels for experimentation and training.