Metal Shark to develop autonomous naval defense system for US Marine Corps

Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has been selected to develop and implement the long range unmanned surface vessel (LRUSV) system for the United States Marine Corps.

The tiered, scalable weapons system will provide the ability to accurately track and destroy targets at range throughout the battle space. While fully autonomous, the vessels may be optionally manned and they will carry multiple payloads, which they will be capable of autonomously launching and retrieving, according to the shipbuilder.

Metal Shark has enlisted autonomous technology developer Spatial Integrated Systems (SIS), recently acquired by Huntington Ingalls Industries, to provide the autonomy solution for the LRUSV system.

Under an “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA) agreement with Marine Corps Systems Command, Metal Shark will design, build, test, and implement the vessels and will handle the integration of the autonomy system and an advanced Command and Control (C2) software suite.

In addition to the autonomous LRUSV, Metal Shark will also produce manned support vessels for the LRUSV system utilizing its 40 Defiant military patrol craft platform, which the builder is currently producing to create the U.S. Navy’s new “40 PB” patrol boat fleet.

“The LRUSV program represents a significant milestone for autonomous technology, for the defense world, and for the entire shipbuilding industry,” Chris Allard, Metal Shark CEO, commented.

“We are thrilled to be integrating advanced autonomy and Command and Control capability into these highly specialized surface vessels to provide the Marine Corps with a next-generation system.”

Under the OTA, Metal Shark will also provide the Marine Corps with associated program management, system engineering, configuration management, quality assurance, logistical support, and the development of technical publications and manuals in support of the LRUSV program.

The LRUSV program is the latest success for Metal Shark’s Sharktech Autonomous Vessels division, a wholly-owned subsidiary launched in 2018 and specifically focused on the advancement of unmanned vessel technology. The shipbuilder has delivered over 400 autonomous and remotely operated vessels to date.