U.S. Defense Department Awards Long-Range Unmanned Vessel Contracts

Mike Schuler
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September 15, 2020

An artist’s rendering of the Sea Train concept. Illustration courtesy DARPA

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, aka DARPA, has awarded contracts to private sector companies as part of a project to demonstrate the use of long-range unmanned surface vessels for naval operations.

The contracts were awarded to Applied Physical Sciences Corp., Gibbs & Cox Maritime Solutions, and InMar Technologies. Specifically, the companies will be working on a program called Sea Train.

DARPA explains  the Sea Train program on its website:

The Sea Train program aims to demonstrate long range deployment capabilities for a distributed fleet of tactical unmanned surface vessels. The program seeks to enable extended transoceanic transit and long-range naval operations by exploiting the efficiencies of a system of connected vessels (Sea Train).

The goal is to develop and demonstrate approaches that exploit wave-making resistance reductions to overcome the range limitations inherent in medium unmanned surface vessels. DARPA envisions sea trains formed by physically connecting vessels with various degrees of freedom between the vessels, or vessels sailing in collaborative formations at various distances between the vessels.

The contract awards follow news last week awarded contracts totaling nearly $42 million to six companies to study adding large unmanned vessels to the U.S. Navy fleet. The companies included Huntington Ingalls, Lockheed Martin, Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, Marinette Marine Corp., Gibbs & Cox, and Austal USA.

Operating as an agency of the United States Department of Defense, DARPA’s goal is to research and develop new and emerging technologies that could be of use by the military.

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