The U.S. Navy showing off its new non-crewed surface vehicle or robo-boat during the visit of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Nov. 21.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin met with Sailors from USS Sentry (MCM 3) and USS Gladiator (MCM 11) at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. During the visit, also was demonstrated the newest Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel attached to Task Force (TF) 59.
Last month, Task Force 59 conducted the first exercise integrating unmanned surface vessels (USV) with manned assets at sea in the Arabian Gulf. Next month, the task force will establish a joint hub at the Royal Jordanian naval base in Aqaba, Jordan, for USV operations in the Red Sea.
“You ought to feel good about doing some things that are really extraordinary and demonstrate the true capability that you have,” Austin said. “I have no doubt that you will continue to take things to the next level.”
The Middle East region’s unique geography, climate, and strategic importance offer an ideal environment for unmanned innovation. The area includes the world’s largest standing maritime partnership, Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
As to the drone, the Saildrone Explorer is an autonomous vessel that combines wind-powered propulsion technology and solar-powered meteorological and oceanographic sensors to perform autonomous long-range data collection missions in the harshest ocean environments. It is a 23-foot-long, 16-foot-tall USV reliant on wind power for propulsion. The vessel houses a package of sensors powered through solar energy for monitoring the maritime environment.
The robo-boat also includes an advanced acoustic and camera system that, combined with a proprietary onboard machine learning algorithm, fuses sensor data to deliver significantly expanded information and decision advantage 24/7.