This is a classic case of why/how our military procurement system is broken…

I had some involvement with this in 2014/5 in my previous life. The Navy was supposed to get their hands on it LONG before now…

I have no doubt sequestration played a part in this, not only from the reduced R&D funding, but in the lack of approvals for new technology projects. When you’re in the red before you spend the first dollar, the odds of getting ANY new program, much less a potential game changer through the system is very small. Even when you DO have a successful program, you have to get across the ‘valley of death’ as it’s known.

That is the transition from R&D to actual acquisition, because under sequestration, to get a new procurement, you have to kill a current program. And interia and the powers that be are ‘much’ more comfortable with that one bird in hand, regardless of how good the two in the bush are, so few programs successfully make it across that valley…

prototype autonomous ship known as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) has officially been transferred to the U.S. Navy from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) after a two-year testing and evaluation program. Named “Sea Hunter,” the Office of Naval Research will continue to develop the vessel from this point forward.

Full article from Digital Trends, HERE.

Sadly, it may take another 8-10 years before it’s actually ‘approved’ for Fleet use. By then, it will be functionally obsolete…



Finally… — 19 Comments

  1. But the SR-71 went from calculations on a napkin in 1956 to operational missions in 1964.

  2. 27 knots, no weapons. It’s a decent search platform, maybe, but no hunter killer. Maybe they could mount a .30 on it and use it for anti-piracy operations.

    And the radio spectrum keeps on getting more crowded, and jamming operations keep looking more cost effective to our enemies.

  3. So, since this is an unmanned vessel, why does it have a bridge, and, like the Air Force Drown warriors, will some Salty (and by salty I mean his preferred beverage is a Margarita) Ensign in San Diego or Norfolk be at the controls? It does have a shallow draft now, but when guns and ammo are loaded…

  4. I see the ChiComs looked to have a rail gun mounted on one of their boats for test.

  5. RS- Sadly, yes…

    McChuck- Not designed as a hunter/killer, search/surveil only.

    CP- For driving it in and out of port… LOL

    Gerry- Among other things… Sigh

  6. What keeps the ship from being boarded, hoisted above to a CHICOM (or other nation’s ship or a privateer) ship and taken apart? I understand the strategy but there is no way that a ship like that could keep up with a CVBG in a normal Pacific sea state. Thousands just floating around the Pacific (for example)? Maybe? I remain unconvinced.

  7. I think the big take-away here is that the Navy thinks they can build a complex modern ship that will never have a problem in service.

    “Send in the Sea Hunter!”

    “Sorry, Captain. It’s still going around in a little circle just over the horizon.”

    “Why hasn’t it been fixed?!”

    “We put in a tech support call to the builder, they’ll have some guys out day after tomorrow…”

    “Why can’t our guys fix it?”

    “We’re not authorized to fix it. And we don’t have any people who know how; it was all outsourced to civilian contractors from the beginning.”

    “What is that thing good for, then?”

    “I don’t think you’re supposed to ask that, sir.”

    • It isn’t just the Navy. I’ve spent a good part of my my career designing retro-fits to systems that were designed to operate under steady state conditions but not started up or repaired. Before I retired, I met more and more young, smart engineers who could design clever solutions that did great in the laboratory but had no idea how things worked in a real plant environment where heat, vibration, humidity and human error was rampant.

  8. This looks like another one of those huge money pits easily hijacked by a sharp kid with the newest Nintendo box. That will create the need to spend another few million to determine how the software was debugged by a contractor that used to work for Nintendo.

  9. LL- We’ll chat… 🙂

    TRX- THAT is what we were supposed to work on… sigh

    NRW- Oh so true, that was why we were getting it, to wring it out in the ‘real world’!!!

    Jess- That was something else we were going to look into. 😀

  10. I’m afraid the USS Constitution will have to put to sea to keep up fleet numbers.
    At least you’ll have the required job skill set for setting sails.

    • Before the new Constitution provided for a Federal navy in 1789, Congress was too stingy to allocate much in the way of funds for ships. So the “United States Navy” depended heavily on privateers. By 1812 the US Navy was up to a whole fifteen ships; Congress hastily approved a bill to hire more privateers, who outperformed the regular Navy significantly.

      source: US Naval Institute

      Maybe we need more privateers…

  11. What is the vast fascination with automated stuff? Ships, cars, planes, etc…
    I understand it is less loss of life to send in a robot to blow up a bomb, and in fairness, drones seem to work ok, but what about building things to give people jobs on…besides building them I mean.
    I would think the hijack/hacking factor would be HUGE on automated vehicles. How come you never hear about ships being hijacked in the sifi stories? Have we fixed hacking in the future?

    • Suz – In the future, military leaders are smart enough to not allow wireless connections to the control circuits. All information sharing systems will be isolated and air gapped.

    • It’s sort of like the “autonomous taxi” thing with self-driving cars. The way I look at it, they’re mobile parts sources for anyone with a burner phone… tires, batteries, fenders, or just strip them down to the bare chassis and sell the bits on Craigslist.

  12. One can only hope that our enemies have similarly messed-up acquisition programs…..