The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has contracted Applied Physical Sciences Corp., Gibbs & Cox Maritime Solutions, and InMar Technologies for work on its “Sea Train” concept.
DARPA is running the Sea Train program to demonstrate long range deployment capabilities for a distributed fleet of tactical unmanned surface vessels. The program seeks to enable extended transoceanic transit and long-range naval operations by exploiting the efficiencies of a system of connected vessels (e.g. Sea Train).
The goal is to develop and demonstrate approaches that exploit wave-making resistance reductions to overcome the range limitations inherent in medium unmanned surface vessels.
DARPA envisions sea trains formed by physically connecting vessels with various degrees of freedom between the vessels, or vessels sailing in collaborative formations at various distances between the vessels.
The agency argues that smaller, and more agile and disposable vessels have the tactical capabilities and flexibility to support a wide range of missions where focused operations and increased vessel numbers assure flexible responses against asymmetric threats.
Whether conducting independent operations or complementing a manned surface ship, the distributed group of USVs may provide a more dynamic, rapid response capability while increasing the geospatial coverage of maritime operations.
DARPA expects to carry out first tests of the concept in the second half of fiscal year 2022.