And her name shall be Sea Hunter
Just unveiled a few weeks ago, the 132-foot USV which aims to be the Navy’s newest 21st Century expendable sub-chaser has been formally christened.
Part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV Pronounced “Active,” ) program, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Sea Hunter as she is now know, is a game changer.
“This is an inflection point,” Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Work said in an interview, adding he hoped such ships might find a place in the Western Pacific in as few as five years. “This is the first time we’ve ever had a totally robotic, trans-oceanic-capable ship.”
Sea Hunter will now move to San Diego for a two year pilot program to R&D just what the platform can do and what sensor package works best.
The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.
Still, its easy to see where a flotilla of Sea Hunters could provide a lot of ASW coverage on the cheap and even if mines or torpedoes take half of them out, it’s a hit to the treasury and not incoming C-17s to Dover with waiting honor guards.
And with that in mind, check out this super sweet walk-through/construction video to see just how simple this craft is.