The United States Navy is calling on industry to help it construct a fleet of ten robot warships in the next five years to patrol dangerous waters. They will build on the unmanned Sea Hunter, seen in this photo.
The huge ships are referred to as Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs) and would carry out what is called 3D work. This is work that is "dull, dangerous and dirty".
Details of the navy's plans are published in a draft request for proposal on the FedBizOpps website.
The document states:
“The LUSV will be a high-endurance, reconfigurable ship able to accommodate various payloads for unmanned missions to augment the Navy’s manned surface force. With a large payload capacity, the LUSV will be designed to conduct a variety of warfare operations independently or in conjunction with manned surface combatants.
“The LUSV will be capable of semi-autonomous or fully autonomous operation, with operators in-the-loop (controlling remotely) or on-the-loop (enabled through autonomy).”
The unmanned vehicles would act as scouts for main battle fleets and would be equipped with radar, sonar and anti-air and cruise missiles.
These ships are described as "light frigate" and would also be able to accommodate a minimal crew if necessary.
Full Steam Ahead?
According to the US Naval Institute News, the Navy has asked for $400 million in the 2020 budget to build two LUSVs that will be 200 to 300 feet in length. This will make them the largest unmanned vehicles to date.
A final request for proposal for the LUSV is expected in the fourth quarter fiscal of this year.