U.S. Navy Seeks Maritime Industry's Input for Unmanned Vessel

A previous DARPA / U.S. Navy project on autonomous navigation, dubbed ACTUV (USN)

Published Oct 23, 2018 10:53 AM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy is seeking information from industry about possible existing platforms that could satisfy its specifications for a new Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle, an autonomous, medium-endurance, medium-speed vessel capable of carrying three TEU of containerized payload.

The project described is an ambitious combination of unmanned vessel technology and military-specific requirements. It is nearly identical to a request issued by NAVSEA's Littoral Combat Ship Unmanned Systems Program last year, which sought information for a Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle with comparable specifications. The last request called for a vessel that would be slightly faster and capable of operating in higher sea states. 

In the Navy's ideal configuration, the new MUSV system would feature:

- Endurance of 4,500 nm at 16 knots or more
- 90 days of operation without human maintenance
- Sustained maximum speed of 27 knots
- Capable of operations in Sea State 5
- Deck capacity for one 40-foot container and one 20-foot container, fully laden, with a 270 degree field of view from each box (for unspecified purposes)
- Navy comms, including EHF, UHF, Link-16 and Inmarsat
- No flight deck
- No self-defense package, but resistant to boarding, manual tampering or cyberattack
- Capable of unmanned harbor pilotage
- Capable of unmanned refueling at sea
- Capable of autonomous navigation, including route planning, avoiding objects and hazards, weather routing and maneuvering in accordance with COLREGS 
- Modular sensors, software and payloads in autonomy system
- 12-month delivery timeline from contract award
- 15 year service life

The Navy is particularly interested in ideas and solutions for the vessel's autonomy system, "to include leveraging existing industry systems or the option for [Government Furnished Equipment] autonomy."