US Navy welcomes Seahawk autonomous vessel

Leidos, a science and technology company, has completed the delivery of an autonomous vessel, known as Seahawk, to the US Navy.

us navy
Photo: Leidos

The Office of Naval Research awarded Leidos the cost-plus-fixed fee contract to build the vessel, with an approximate value of $35.5 million, in December 2017. Work was principally performed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“We are honored to provide this latest technological advancement to America’s sailors who fight to keep the seas open and free,” Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, Leidos Vice President and Navy strategic account executive, said.

Seahawk is a long-range, high-availability autonomous surface vessel with a composite trimaran hull. This medium-displacement unmanned surface vehicle (MDUSV) will enhance capabilities for naval operations.

Like Leidos’ MDUSV Sea Hunter, Seahawk is substantially larger than other U.S. Navy USVs and has significantly increased capabilities compared to smaller USVs in terms of range, seakeeping and payload capacity.

Seahawk is designed to operate with little human involvement, thus providing a forward-deployed and rapid-response asset in the global maritime surveillance network.

“We didn’t just put an autonomous navigation system onto an existing ship,” Dan Brintzinghoffer, Leidos Vice President for Maritime Solutions, explained.

“Every mechanical and electrical system on Seahawk has unique configurations designed to run for months at a time without maintenance or a crew.”

The trimaran’s displacement (fully loaded) is 145 long tons. This includes 14,000 gallons of fuel that can power the twin diesel engines for a substantial length of time. Seahawk’s upgraded design follows an evaluation of over 300 lessons learned from Sea Hunter. These upgrades were based on joint evaluations by Leidos and the Navy and include upgraded electrical systems, a payload mounting system and test operator control station.

Seahawk will join Surface Development Squadron 1 (SURFDEVRON) in San Diego, California.