ghost fleet overlord ship

Ghost Fleet Overlord Unmanned Surface Vessel NOMAD. Department of Defense photo

Navy’s Second ‘Ghost Fleet’ Unmanned Ship Makes Long-Range Transit from Gulf to West Coast

Mike Schuler
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July 15, 2021

A U.S. Navy “Ghost Fleet Overlord” unmanned vessel has completed a second long-range autonomous transit, traveling from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast via the Panama Canal.

The unmanned surface vessel (USV), named Nomad, travelled total of 4,421 nautical miles, 98 percent of which was in autonomous mode. The first Ghost Fleet Overlord vessel, Ranger, completed a similar transit in October 2020. Both vessels passed through the Panama Canal while in manual mode.

The Navy said the Nomad transit provided an opportunity for extended testing of vessel endurance, autonomous operations, and interoperability of government command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems with vendor autonomy, hull mechanical and hull electrical systems. Remote mission command and control for the transit was conducted from an ashore Unmanned Operations Center operated by U.S. Navy Sailors from Surface Development Squadron One.

“This is another significant milestone for SCO’s Ghost Fleet Overlord program and supports the Navy’s Unmanned Campaign Framework by adding a second Overlord vessel to the West Coast. The SCO Ghost Fleet Overlord program serves to inform Navy prototype efforts by integrating mature technologies to accelerate Service priorities and is a key piece of the build a little, test a little, and learn a lot philosophy articulated in the Navy Unmanned Campaign Framework,” said SCO Director Jay Dryer.

The Ghost Fleet Overlord program plays a central role in informing the Navy’s new classes of USVs and serves as part of extensive technical risk-reduction efforts. The program is currently in its second phase, which began in September 2019 and focuses on the integration of government-furnished command-and-control systems and payloads and more complex and challenging naval operations. Phase II is being conducted with the same vessels and industry teams that took part in Phase I and will conclude in early 2022, at which point both Ghost Fleet Overlord vessels will transition to the Navy for further experimentation.

Two additional Ghost Fleet Overlord prototype USVs are currently under construction.

“Our close partnership with SCO on the Overlord program is accelerating the technology demonstration, CONOPs [concept of operations] development, and operational command and control of unmanned surface vessels in direct alignment with the Navy’s plans,” said Captain Pete Small, Navy Program Manager for USVs.

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