US Navy tests capabilities of USVs at Virginia Beach

The USVs tested came in different sizes - from five to 36 feet (1.5 to 11 meters).

 US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan leaves Victoria Harbour after a visit to Hong Kong, China November 25, 2018.  (photo credit: LIANG YINGFEI/CAIXIN MEDIA VIA REUTERS)
US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan leaves Victoria Harbour after a visit to Hong Kong, China November 25, 2018.
(photo credit: LIANG YINGFEI/CAIXIN MEDIA VIA REUTERS)

The US Navy conducted tests of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) in Virginia Beach on Wednesday in order to increase their range and detection, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) said.

The USVs tested came in different sizes - from five to 36 feet (1.5 to 11 meters). The demonstration was to analyze the capability of each USV.

Among attendees of the demonstration were stakeholders from the US Fleet Forces Command, the Unmanned Task Force and the Navy Special Warfare Command.

The Joint Prototyping and Experimentation and Maritime (JPEM) team captured data from the USVs by conducting assessments of the vessels. The data studied included their range, speed, endurance, technology and payload capacity.

"This was a valuable opportunity for the USV developers to experience an ocean environment," said JPEM program manager Dennis Danko. "Operating from STILETTO provided the developers, as well as the observers, a snapshot of the operational challenges of working in an open ocean environment, where the conditions can change from day to day.”

US Navy 5th fleet ship. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)US Navy 5th fleet ship. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

A way to combat drug trafficking

One characteristic of USVs is the ability to stop illicit drug trafficking.

"This was a valuable opportunity for the USV developers to experience an ocean environment."

Dennis Danko

“Every day we are faced with multiple suspect vessels and illicit trafficking near and in the area of operations,” said US Coast Guard Lt.-Commander Duane Zitta. “We need alternative capabilities and options that will help locate and detect suspect activity and stop illegal movement to the United States.”