The Sea Hunter is an unmanned surface vehicle (referred to as: Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV) which was launched in April 2016. With the success of the UAV (drone) program it was an inevitability the United States Military would seek unmanned vehicles for other environments. Differing from UAVs, a ACTUV would be at considerable more risk (it would be easier to take out), but has huge upside.
The purpose of the Sea Hunter is simple, autonomously hunt submarines. According to the Navy Times, “ It’s designed to operate at sea for months at a time, travel thousands of miles, all while follow navigation rules and avoiding collisions” (April 10, 2016). Having protection against submarines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without the need for rest seems like an incredibly awesome idea. Take a look at the video below.
(Video courtesy of USA Military Channel YouTube channel)
Current testing is being done unarmed, and if successful armed testing will follow. So far the results have been positive, “ACTUV’s autonomy suite has proven capable of operating the ship in compliance with maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation — including International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, or COLREGS,” the release said. “ACTUV accomplishes this feat through advanced software and hardware that serve as automated lookouts, enabling the ship to operate safely near manned maritime vessels in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night” (navytimes.com).
Just like the drone program there will be a human deciding when, and where to deploy the ACTUV. Although we are creeping towards Skynet (Terminator if you didn’t catch the reference) each day, I think reducing the risk to human lives without compression our security is a good thing. Overall operating costs would also be reduced (compared to a manned vessel capable of the same missions).
What are your thoughts on the Military shifting towards unmanned vehicles? Let me know in the comment section below.
(Featured image courtesy of defensenews.com)