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US Navy unmanned surface vessels complete global exercise

Four unmanned surface vehicles have returned to their home port after travelling 46,651 nautical miles as part of the US Navy’s Integrated Battle Problem 23.2, aimed at testing, developing, and evaluating USVs.

Four unmanned surface vehicles have returned to their home port after travelling 46,651 nautical miles as part of the US Navy’s Integrated Battle Problem 23.2, aimed at testing, developing, and evaluating USVs.

The four Leidos-made unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) – the Mariner, Ranger, Seahawk, and Sea Hunter – completed port visits in Japan and Australia during the deployment, during which the capabilities predominantly utilised autonomous navigation.

Throughout their time at sea, the USVs and personnel from USVDIV-1 collaborated with the Japan Maritime-Self Defense Force, Royal Australian Navy, Carrier Strike Group 1, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and elements in the US 7th Fleet.

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“Through analysis, simulation, prototyping, and demonstration, exercises like IBP 23.2 advance manned-unmanned teaming to support traditional capabilities in the Indo-Pacific,” US Vice Admiral Michael Boyle, commander, US 3rd Fleet, said.

“As we continue employing these capabilities, our sailors will gain confidence and skill operating alongside unmanned platforms that more seamlessly integrate across the force to enhance decision speed and lethality.”

A Leidos Australia spokesperson welcomed the chance to support the program, noting how unmanned vessels will be essential in enabling navies to achieve their objectives, with Australia able to leverage the opportunities provided by autonomy: “Leidos Australia were delighted to support the USN USV Division 1 deployment to Australia.

"It was timely and informative that the RAN had the opportunity to exercise with the USN's proven, reliable autonomous capabilities.

"The deployment highlighted how autonomy can accomplish critical missions with minimal need for support personnel. This is crucial for protecting the lives of sailors in high-risk environments, as well as enabling navies to accomplish more by adopting crewed-uncrewed teaming arrangements."

"The historic visit showed not just the effectiveness of surface autonomy, but also that Australia can maintain and sustain USVs using our existing industrial base.”

Having tested the four USVs, it is expected that USVDIV-1 will gain insights into how the US military can better integrate unmanned systems into the US fleet and determine how the US military can better support the development of unmanned systems.

“To think that two years ago, USVDIV-1 didn’t exist as a command demonstrates the Navy’s ability to rapidly develop and implement advanced capabilities to meet pacing challenges,” US Navy Commander Jeremiah Daley, commanding officer of USVDIV-1 outlined.

“As USVDIV-1 continues to support USV experimentation and develop sailors to support this capability, we will continue to advance the growth and implementation of these new platforms.”

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