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Navy Turns to NPS to Develop Sea Hunter's Potential Future Missions
U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Michael Ehrlich

Navy Turns to NPS to Develop Sea Hunter's Potential Future Missions

By MC2 Michael Ehrlich

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems, retired U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley, gives the keynote address at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) workshop held in NPS' Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Auditorium, Feb. 14. The focus of the workshop was to develop possible mission sets for the Navy's new autonomous Sea Hunter.

"I think we are already seeing new missions emerge out of our study for how unmanned systems can be used," said Kelley. "Often our missions are dictated because we have a human actually on the platform, or thousands in the case of a carrier. When we are able to take the traditional missions that we have today, and do them with unmanned systems, a lot of our problems get solved."

Sea Hunter's Program Manager at DARPA, Scott Littlefield was a key participant in the effort, providing some of the critical questions discussed among the NPS students and faculty, and the visiting subject matter experts. In addition to the breakout sessions discussing these questions, Littlefield was eager to hear from NPS students who brought more insight than he had anticipated.

"I think NPS is a unique institution in terms of having the right mix of people to help us get at some of these questions, because the students have operational backgrounds," said Littlefield. "They have been in the fleet recently so they bring that perspective that helps us understand not only the technology but how the technology will be used."

Research Associate Brian Wood helped coordinate the workshop with DARPA, bringing together members of several different disciplines along with students who are presenting thesis proposals on subjects from acquisitions to sonar detection.

"Antisubmarine warfare is the primary capability envisioned for Sea Hunter during its development, but the vessel is clearly capable of more," said Wood. "Other missions that are being looked into are intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as mine warfare, electronic warfare and command and control operations."

For more information about the ACTUV workshop, check out the full story on the NPS.edu.

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