Ship part

US DARPA to Build, Test and Demonstrate Unmanned Vessel

The US Department of Defense research and development agency is entering the second phase of a project to build and demonstrate a new unmanned surface vessel.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on Monday that it is entering Phase 2 of the No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) program, which aims to build and demonstrate a revolutionary new medium unmanned surface vessel (MUSV) that will can go to sea and carry out missions with unprecedented reliability and availability, while carrying a large payload. The agency selected Serco Inc.’s design to move forward upon completion of Phase 1.

NOMARS has taken a clean slate approach to vessel design, holding firmly to the requirement that there are never any humans on board the vessel while at sea – including during disaster events. refueling in progress (UNREP). By eliminating all of the constraints and requirements associated with humans, NOMARS has opened up the design space to new ship configurations and capabilities that could never be considered for manned ships.

NOMARS also pushes the limits of vessel reliability. As there are no crew onboard to perform maintenance, NOMARS required new approaches to power generation, propulsion, machinery alignment and control schemes to ensure continued functionality. throughout a long mission in all weathers, temperatures and sea states.

“NOMARS plans to demonstrate a completely unmanned, next-generation vessel that will enable entirely new concepts of operations,” said Gregory Avicola, program manager in DARPA’s Office of Tactical Technology. “We will enable methods of deploying and maintaining very large fleets of unmanned surface vessels that can serve as partners, around the world, for the largest crewed combatants in the United States Navy.”

During Phase 1, Serco developed a new set of Design Space Exploration (DSX) tools that can assess spaces with a variety of parameters and produce millions of ship designs to meet a diverse set of performance goals and constraints. Serco used its DSX tool to create a set of vessel designs ranging from 170 to 270 metric tons, then refined them into a single vessel for preliminary design review, which the company dubbed Defiant. During Phase 2, Serco will finalize the vessel design, build the vessel, and perform a series of rigorous testing activities before taking it to sea for a three-month demonstration event. Serco works with Beier Integrated Systems LLC, Caterpillar, DRS Naval Power Systems Inc., ICE FLOE LLC (dba Nichols Brothers Boat Builders), Metron Inc., Serco Inc. (div Maritime Engineering Operations), Submergence Group LLC and Thrustmaster of Texas Inc. .on the project.

Defiant will be the first of its kind. The 210 metric ton MUSV-class vessel aims to maximize performance, reliability and maintenance efficiency while carrying significant payload at tactically useful ranges. The aim is to achieve ultra-reliability goals by integrating distributed hybrid power generation, pod thrusters and high capacity batteries. A key NOMARS philosophy is “graceful degradation”, which allows individual equipment to fail over time with enough system-level redundancy to meet full system requirements at speeds of at least 15 knots after one year at sea. The major system components of the selected design are modular, so repairs can be carried out with equipment typically found in shipyards around the world. This maintenance philosophy promotes rapid turnaround, allowing ships to spend the majority of their life at sea performing missions.