Friday, May 24, 2024

U.S. Navy tests unmanned vessel for escort and counterterrorism roles

The U.S. Navy has recently tested the Unmanned Diesel Greenough Advanced Rescue Craft (UD-GARC) in the Chesapeake Bay during Exercise Solid Curtain 2022. The test took place back in February and was attended by the United States Coast Guard Cutter Razorbill.

During the exercise, the UD-GARC was fitted with a remote-controlled Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) weapons system, an auto-targeting system, and an advanced range finder. These tools could potentially allow the system to detect danger or vessels that may pose a threat. The boat was controlled from afar by Navy personnel. Sailer within Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 4 served as the opposing force (OPFOR), which enabled a realistic high-value escort testing scenario for the UD-GARC.

The goal of the testing was to measure the difference between automated and human responses to better understand the overall visibility of the system.

The Navy says the UD-GARC has the potential to serve in a counterterrorism role, mitigating and eliminating threats to military vessels operating at sea. The vessel’s semi-autonomous nature could potentially keep personnel a safe distance from dangerous situations. It can be outfitted with various payloads, including a remote weapons system (RWS) controlled from a different location. The RWS is not specific to the UD-GARC and could be mounted on other static and mobile platforms, allowing users to locate and engage threats from a distance.

Paul Seiffert, the principal engineer for Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, said the future exercises would apply lessons learned from the last month’s tests to improve upon parts of the system that may require attention.

“The capability and capacity that an unmanned boat brings to not just NECC, but the Navy, Coast Guard, and our partners operating at sea will continue to be tested and discovered,” said Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Technician Jay Wheeler, NECC Concepts, Technology, and Integration department. “I believe we have just begun to witness what this technology will allow us to do in the future.”