Tag Archives: Sea Hunter

Contract tea leaves

Last Friday had a bunch of interesting contract announcements including $450M from the Army to General Atomics for a kind of undetailed drone award (Predator, Gray Eagle, or something better?), while the Navy dropped over $70 million split between Ingalls, Lockheed, Martin-Marietta, Bollinger, Austal, Gibbs, and Hadal to keep working on drone boats. Interesting, the latter of these is specifically for “using spiral winding technology to lower the cost of high-quality carbon fiber composite unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) hulls.”

This comes after at least four large unmanned surface vessels were used in the latest RIMPAC exercises this summer and the Royal Navy just welcomed a similar vessel– XV Patrick Blackett— into their fleet.

USV Sea Hunter at RIMPAC 2022

The announcements, should you be curious:

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, was awarded a $456,246,389 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering and technical services required to accomplish research, development, integration, test, sustainment and operation for unmanned aircraft systems. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of July 27, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-22-D-0025).

Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, is awarded a $13,071,106 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6319 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $ 15,071,106. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,998 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded an $11,320,904 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6320 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $15,070,904. Work will be performed in Moorestown New Jersey, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,941 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wisconsin, is awarded a $10,212,620 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6317 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. Work will be performed in Marinette, Wisconsin, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,841 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC, Lockport, Louisiana, is awarded a $9,428,770 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6316 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $13,958,770. Work will be performed in Lockport, Louisiana, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,933 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Austal USA LLC, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a $9,115,310 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6315 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $13,285,309. Work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September, 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,878 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Gibbs & Cox Inc., Arlington, Virginia, is awarded an $8,981,231 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6318 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $15,071,231. Work will be performed in Arlington, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,899 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Hadal Inc.,* Oakland, California, is awarded an $8,222,536 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Low Cost Spiral Wound Hull that supports multiple payloads. This contract provides for using spiral winding technology to lower the cost of high-quality carbon fiber composite unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) hulls. The contractor shall develop UUV hull designs and components suitable for spiral winding. In the base effort, the contractor shall develop and prototype the first generation spiral wound hulls, associated internal housings and payload deployment systems to assess the technology maturity. The contract also contains three unexercised options, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $23,604,065. Work will be performed in Oakland, California, and is expected to be completed by July 28, 2026. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $8,222,536 are obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under N00014-22-S-B001 long range broad agency announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology dated Oct. 1, 2021. Since proposals are received throughout the year under the long range BAA, the number of proposals received in response to the solicitation is unknown. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N00014-22-C-2023).

Outfitting the Angels

Also, with the 11th “Arctic Angels” Airborne Division being stood up in Alaska, there is lots of cold weather kit being ordered, which would seem to point to the U.S. Army getting serious about fighting in polar regions. This included $10M for CTAPS suits and another $9M for canteens that won’t freeze. Of note, the completion date on both is in next year rather than the more traditional five years. Take what you will from that:

SourceAmerica, Vienna, Virginia, was awarded a $10,622,966 firm-fixed-price contract for Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System extreme cold weather suits. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Vienna, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of April 28, 2023. Fiscal 2022 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $10,622,966 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QY-22-C-0038).

SourceAmerica, Vienna, Virginia, was awarded a $9,099,930 firm-fixed-price contract for cold weather canteens. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Vienna, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2023. Fiscal 2022 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $9,099,930 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QY-22-C-0036).

It looks like ONR is picking up Sea Hunter

I give you, DARPA’s robot subchaser, Sea Hunter, testbed of the ACTUV program, which is now part of ONR.

From DARPA:

DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). 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 the open seas for month at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).

The handover marks the culmination of three years of collaboration between DARPA and ONR that started in September 2014. An April 2016 christening ceremony marked the vessel’s formal transition from a DARPA-led design and construction project to a new stage of open-water testing conducted jointly with ONR. That same month, the vessel moved to San Diego, Calif., for open-water testing.

ONR plans to continue the aggressive schedule of at-sea tests to further develop ACTUV/MDUSV technologies, including automation of payload and sensor data processing, rapid development of new mission-specific autonomous behaviors, and exploring coordination of autonomous activities among multiple USVs. Pending the results of those tests, the MDUSV program could transition to U.S. Navy operations by 2018.

Navy tests out a modern Bachstelze

Over the past few years DARPA has been working on their version of the old U-Boat kite.

ICYMI, during WWII, the Kriegsmarine’s U-boat fleet used about 200~ Focke-Achgelis FA 330 Bachstelze (English: Wagtail) aircraft. The FA330 was a type of rotary-wing kite that weighed about 150-pounds and, using an unpowered 24-foot three-bladed rotor for lift, was winched out into the air behind a U-boat on a 500-foot cable, allowing the adventuresome sailor in its single seat to have the best view on the boote.

A simple idea, they were complicated in use as they took a long time (20-30 minutes to assemble) and, if the kiteman saw an enemy warship, slowed the dive of the submarine far too long than was safe.

Well, the ONR and DARPA have teamed up to do the same thing but in an updated (and unmanned) version that swaps out the rotating kite wing for a much safer parafoil.

Observe the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) below, a low-cost, elevated sensor mast being tested out on USS Zephyr, a 179-foot Cyclone-class patrol coastal. It is the first time it was used aboard a U.S. Navy vessel,  after being trialed on Sea Hunter, DARPA’s ACTUV vessel last year.

“Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.”

Sea Hunter takes her TALON out to play

We’ve talked about DARPA’s 132-foot USV robot subchaser, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), dubbed Sea Hunter, a few times already this year.

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.

We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.

Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.

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.

sea hunter

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.

Meet Seagull, Israel’s new USV robot boat

seagull

Elbit Systems has a new 40-foot unmanned surface vehicle, the Seagull, which is designed to operate in pairs for either mine sweeping or sub busting. The idea is the first vehicle will have surveillance gear to find the sub or mine, while the second will carry either clearance gear (an ROV) or a anti-submarine torpedo to shove right up the sneaky U-boat’s kisser.

seagull 2 sea gull 3

From Elbit’s presser:

Drawing on world class know -how derived from generations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) design, development and operation and its naval capabilities, Elbit Systems’ newest offering in the unmanned platform field is Seagull -an organic, modular, highly autonomous, multi-mission Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) system.

Seagull is a 12-meter USV with replaceable mission modules, with two vessels capable of being operated and controlled in concert using a single Mission Control System (MCS), from manned ships or from the shore.

The system provides unmanned end-to-end mine hunting operation taking the man out of the mine field. It provides mission planning, and on-line operation in known and unknown areas,including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.

The idea is the two-boat pair can operate within 50-100 miles of the control station and remain at sea for 96 hours, covering a pretty large swath of littoral in the process while their operators sip coffee back in a trailer somewhere. A second set of boats can be kept ready to rotate out the first, making a persistent sea station a very possible endeavor.

This obviously has uses in a MIUWU or PSU augmentation or replacement.

Speaking of which, DARPA’s Sea Hunter–the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV is the U.S.’s version of this, and is mucho larger at some 132-feet long and is getting some love on social media as of late.