The US Navy has conducted a second long-range autonomous transit with a Ghost Fleet Overlord USV.
The US Department of Defense has confirmed that the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), in partnership with the US Navy, has conducted a second long-range autonomous transit with a Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessel (USV) from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast.
The vessel, dubbed NOMAD, reportedly travelled 4,421 nautical miles, with 98 per cent of the voyage conducted autonomously.
The first Ghost Fleet Overlord USV, RANGER, completed a similar transit in October 2020, with both USVs passing through the Panama Canal manually.
The transit was designed to test the USV’s endurance, autonomous operations and interoperability of government command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems leveraging vendor autonomy, hull mechanical and hull electrical systems.
Remote mission command and control tasks were conducted from an ashore Unmanned Operations Centre by US 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,” SCO director Jay Dryer said.
“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.”
The NOMAD is now expected to join the RANGER USV to participate in fleet experimentation exercises.
The exercises are aimed at further maturing the autonomy systems, demonstrating system reliability and exploring employment concepts for co-ordinated operations with manned combatants.
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The second phase of the Ghost Fleet Overlord program commenced in September 2019, focusing on the integration of government-furnished command-and-control systems and payloads and more complex naval operations experimentation.
“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,” Captain Pete Small, Navy Program Manager for USVs, said.
Two additional Ghost Fleet Overlord prototype USVs are currently being developed.