The Navy’s secretive sub-hunting ghost ship, technically known as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vessel, Sea Hunter, recently found its way into the record books as the first unmanned vessel to successfully traverse the open ocean between San Diego, California and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
At 132-feet long and boasting a displacement of 140 tons, the Sea Hunter is no undersized drone. The ship was purpose-built to hunt down encroaching submarines using the unblinking eyes of its on-board sensor suite–and to do so without the assistance of any human beings. The ship was first developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, before being turned over to the Navy, which made the program’s ongoing efforts classified earlier this year.
However, despite elements of the Sea Hunter unmanned vessel remaining behind the veil of government secrecy, that didn’t stop the Navy’s lead contractor on the program, Leidos, from bragging about the vessel’s unique accomplishment last week.
“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 U.S. Navy that autonomy technology is ready to move from the developmental and experimental stages to advanced mission testing.”