The US Navy’s Sea Hunter autonomous trimaran became the first ship to successfully autonomously navigate from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and back without a single crew member onboard, vessel designer and builder Leidos announced.
The only time people were onboard during the transit was during short boardings by personnel from an escort vessel to check electrical and propulsion systems.
Leidos designed and built the 132-foot-long Trimaran, Sea Hunter, which is the first autonomous, unmanned vessel capable to travel for long periods of time and execute a variety of missions at a fraction of the cost for a manned ship. This recent achievement is part of an extended test phase, which has been ongoing since the end of 2016.
“The Sea Hunter program is leading the world in unmanned, fully autonomous naval ship design and production,” said Gerry Fasano, Leidos Defense Group president. “The recent long-range mission is the first of its kind and demonstrates to the US Navy that autonomy technology is ready to move from the developmental and experimental stages to advanced mission testing.”
Sea Hunter will continue long duration and mission package testing throughout 2019. The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) awarded Leidos a potential $43.5 million contract to develop Sea Hunter II, which is currently under construction in Mississippi. The sister ship will be evolved based upon lessons learned during the first Sea Hunter build, evolving mission requirements, and further development of autonomy enhancements.