Sea Hunter unmanned sub chaser completes first sea trials
The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) has completed its first round of sea trials, during which main contractor Leidos says it met or surpassed its performance goals. Co-sponsored by DARPA and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the autonomous 132-ft (42-m) trimaran, which is designed to track potentially hostile submarines for months at a time without a crew, was christened Sea Hunter on April 9 at the Swan Island shipyard in Portland, Oregon.
Leidos says that though the Sea Hunter has a pilot and is currently equipped with a temporary pilot house, later tests will have no personnel on board. When it's in service, it will operate for around 30 to 90 days at sea without a crew, while leaving and returning to port on its own. In addition, it is designed to operate safely and in accordance with maritime laws at only a tenth the cost of a conventional sub hunter.
In the first round of trials in the two-year test program, Sea Hunter passed all of its tests for speed, maneuverability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration/deceleration, and fuel consumption, as well as mechanical systems reliability on the open sea. The next phase of testing will concentrate more on the vessel's autonomous capabilities with a focus on sensors, the autonomy suite, the ability of the vessel to comply with maritime collision regulations, and what Leidos calls proof-of-concept demonstrations for various US Navy missions.
The video below shows Sea Hunter being launched and undergoing its initial speed tests.