The Chief of Naval (CNO), Admiral Gilday, recently proposed a fleet of 500 ships by the 2030s. This means building more surface ships, aircraft carriers, amphibious warships, and submarines. Reaching the CNO’s goal also will require the Navy to take the radical step of incorporating approximately 150 unmanned surface vessels (USVs) and Unmanned Undersea Vessels (UUVs) into its fleet architecture. Unfortunately, the Navy recently announced that it would not initiate a formal program for USVs for at least five years. The CNO has proposed an evolutionary approach, deploying a number of smaller USVs with the fleet to begin the process of developing conops and tactics while the relevant technologies associated with both medium and large USVs (MUSVs and LUSVs) mature. Unfortunately, waiting on technologies to mature and deploying only small USVs for experimental purposes is likely to prove a losing strategy when it comes to the real test: operating multiple M/LUSVs. To learn how to operate and support M/LUSVS, the Navy needs to deploy a capability beyond the smaller classes of USVs. To do this, the Navy should consider acquiring a squadron of Sea Hunter MUSVs, equipped with various sensor packages. I have written more on the subject of the Navy and USVs here.
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