DARPA debuts unmanned anti-submarine warfare vessel in Portland - KPTV - FOX 12

DARPA debuts unmanned anti-submarine warfare vessel in Portland

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DARPA unveiled a new unmanned watercraft called the “Sea Hunter” in Portland Thursday. (KPTV) DARPA unveiled a new unmanned watercraft called the “Sea Hunter” in Portland Thursday. (KPTV)

For the first time ever, DARPA debuted their full scale prototype of an unmanned anti-submarine warfare vessel in Portland. 

Officials with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency said the vessel, named The Sea Hunter, is history in the making. And while it is just a prototype, DARPA believes it will be a game changer for the US Navy.

The Sea Hunter is designed to travel thousands of miles over the open seas for months at a time without a single crew member aboard and track quiet diesel electric submarines.

“I am absolutely salivating to see what happens with this baby gets down to the fleet,” US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said.

DARPA officials said the 132-foot vessel has been a dream years in the making, and it was built with the help of Vigor Industrial in Portland.

“Portland has great industrial abilities for ship building, especially for small things like this,” ACTUV Program Manager Scott Littlefield explained. “This was a great place for it to get done."

According to DARPA reports, the $20 million vessel has the ability to travel up to 27 knots and operate through Sea State 5, or extreme conditions.  Because it’s unmanned, DARPA reports it also can take servicemen and women out of harm’s way.  

While there aren’t currently weapons on board the Sea Hunter, DARPA officials noted future versions of the vessel could be armed.

“We will always have a man, or women in the loop, asking ok, ‘what are you seeing, ok take the shot,’ that’s how we operate,” Work said.

Thursday’s christening of the Sea Hunter is a huge milestone for DARPA, and the agency has high hopes for where it will go from here.

“This is a fighting ship, I intend for it to go in harm’s way, buckle up, plug in, get nasty, let’s go,” Work said. “This is going to be a Navy unlike any Navy in history.”

Agency officials note that the Sea Hunter will soon be on its way to San Diego where it will begin open water testing for at least the next couple of years.

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