US Completes First Test of Automated Submarine Hunter

The United States military has completely the first test of a new autonomous ship that’s intended to detect hostile submarines.

Dubbed “The Sea Hunter,” the new ship is relatively small with a length of just 40 meters. But don’t let its small size fool you into thinking it’s just an ordinary vessel. The Sea Hunter has a special purpose in the Navy: it’s designed to hunt enemy submarines.

U.S. military officials have said that enemy submarines are one of the biggest threats faced by our country. Submarines offer the tactical advantage of stealth, allowing hostile forces to sneak past the front lines to conduct surprise attacks. This has prompted the U.S. military to seek new, more effective solutions for detecting enemy submarines. The Sea Hunter does just that: it detects and hunts enemy submarines, all without any actual personnel on board.

Some people may turn their heads at the thought of a robotic submarine-hunting vessel, believing it’s nothing more than just a waste of taxpayer money. However, the Navy has already finished the first official test of the Sea Hunter — and it went pretty well according to officials. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Sea Hunter will enter the U.S. Navy for operational status by 2018.

So, how does the the Sea Hunter operate without any actual personnel on board? An official close to the project said sailors will still control the ship. Navy sailors will make decisions such as how, when and where to use the Sea Hunter, much like the way in which drones are being operated.

Although ACTUV will sail unmanned, its story is entirely about people,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager. “It will still be Sailors who are deciding how, when and where to use this new capability and the technology that has made it possible. And we could not have overcome the massive technical challenges to reaching this point without the creative, committed teamwork of our commercial partners and the Office of Naval Research.”

According to officials, the Sea Hunter — when fully operational — will have the ability to stay out at sea for up to three months with no personnel on board and minimal remote control. And the control that’s needed will be performed by Navy sailors who are thousands of miles away.

What do you think of the Navy’s new submarine-hunting vessel?