According to CNBC, the Sea Hunter, after eight years of development and testing, recently became part of the US Navy’s fleet. This classified vehicle is the first ever warship to traverse the high seas and international waters without a single crew member.
The Pentagon’s science wing called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) came up with the concept for the unmanned vessel in 2010 when it was requested to develop a drone warship capable of hunting submarines, detecting torpedoes and avoiding objects at sea while traveling at a top speed of 27 knots, or 31 mph.
Six years later, the crewless, 140-ton, 132-foot-long robotic ship, was christened as Sea Hunter on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, said this warship will operate wherever the United States Navy operates whether it is in the South China Sea, Baltic Sea and Persian Gulf or in the middle of the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean.
After it’s unveiling in 2016, Sea Hunter was transferred to the Navy for nearly two years of testing off the coast of California.
Sea Hunter's $20 million price tag along with the estimated operating cost ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 a day is merely a fraction of the cost compared with the new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, which would cost the Pentagon approximately $1.6 billion to build with a cost of $700,000 a day to operate.
Sea Hunter is currently not equipped with weapons, but Work, described a scenario in which one day it could be armed with a six pack or a four pack of missiles and then 50 of these warships would be distributed and operating together under the hands of a flotilla commander.
Navy to Commission New Transport Dock Ship
In related news, the US Navy commissioned its newest amphibious transport dock, the future USS Portland on Saturday April 21, at the Port of Portland in Oregon.
USS Portland (LPD 27) is the second ship to honor Oregon’s largest city and is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.
The future Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class ship which is designed to support embarking, transporting, and landing elements of more than 800 Marines with both a flight deck and a well deck.
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