DARPA hands over prototype unmanned submarine hunter ship to US Navy

Following the successful completion of the ACTUV program, DARPA officially handed over a prototype Sea Hunter anti-submarine drone to the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) for further use.

The vessel is a 42 meters long sea trimaran. Currently, there is still a crew on board, but as soon as it becomes ready, the Sea Hunter will become fully autonomous. A submarine hunter will be able to independently carry out missions thousands of miles on the high seas for three months, and then return to base.

The oncoming vessel interaction system (COLREGS) installed on it ensures safe navigation in accordance with international maritime law. At the same time, the cost of a sea hunter is only 10% of the cost of an ordinary ship of this class.

Sea Hunter trials began in July 2016 off the coast of San Diego, California and then continued offline in October. Since February 2017, a series of tests have been carried out to practice collision avoidance at sea, as well as the vessel's ability to work with various additional equipment, in particular, with the towed onboard lift of marine systems (TALONS) and the IMS mine action system.

According to DARPA representatives, the Office of Naval Research will conduct additional tests of the automated data processing system, which will further develop the skills of the ship's autonomy. Possibilities of interaction and coordination between multiple vessels will also be explored. If successful, Sea Hunter will be able to start serving with the US Navy later this year.