US Navy issues RFP for large unmanned surface vessels

The US Navy has released a request for proposals with the aim of awarding multiple conceptual design contracts in support of the navy’s first block of large unmanned surface vessels (LUSV).

The LUSV could potentially be based on commercial offshore support vessel designs according to navy briefs. US Navy photo of a 60-meter OSV developed for the Iraqi Navy

These prototype design contracts will integrate common government furnished equipment warfare systems with commercially derived platforms in order to mature specifications and cost estimates to inform the next stage in the program, which will be the detail design and construction request for proposals.

Large unmanned surface vessels of this configuration will be procured starting in fiscal 2021 with competitive detail design and construction contract awards.

The navy intends to use the LUSV to “affordably expand afloat strike and anti-surface warfare capacity in support of manned surface combatants.”

The service expects the LUSV to be capable of autonomous navigation, International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea compliant maneuvering, and machinery operation with operators in the loop (controlling remotely) or on the loop (prompted action). All weapons employment would be commanded remotely by manned warships or control stations.

With a large payload capacity, the LUSV will be designed to conduct a variety of warfare operations independently or in conjunction with manned surface combatants.

According to a USNI News report, the navy has asked for $400 million to build two 200 to 300 feet long LUSVs.