The ghost fleet ship “ Nomad ” transited through the Panama Canal, bound for California
An experimental unmanned surface vehicle passed through the Panama Canal on its way to its new home in California, USNI News has learned.
Nomadic, a former offshore patrol vessel fitted with systems that allow the vessel to operate autonomously, passed through the Panama Canal this week, according to tracking data from ship observers Marine Traffic.com. A Navy official also confirmed the transit.
Web cameras at the Miraflores locks of the canal showed Nomad en drive to the Pacific late Tuesday evening.
A spokesperson for Naval Surface Forces Pacific referred USNI News to the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Office of Strategic Capabilities when contacted on Tuesday. An OCS spokesperson acknowledged a request for additional information from USNI News but did not comment.
Based near the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., Nomadic was extensively underway on the Gulf Coast of Mexico and traveled as far as Norfolk, Va., for its testing program, according to ship observers.
Nomadic, formerly known as Riley claire, is one of two well-known ships that SCO created for its Ghost Fleet Overlord experimentation program to test the viability of autonomous ships at sea.
SCO contracted with Gibbs & Cox and L3 ASV Global in 2018 to convert one craft each into unmanned prototypes. The Pentagon used special contract rules to prevent disclosure of contractors and the cost of the Overlord program.
The other known Overlord ship, Tidy, completed its own transit to California late last year.
“During this voyage, the ship has covered over 4,700 nautical miles, 97% of which is in autonomous mode – a record for the program. Ghost Fleet Overlord will continue fleet experimentation to inform the development of the Navy’s unmanned concept, ”Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Josh Frey told USNI News at the time.
As Tidy, Nomadic is eventually headed to join the Surface Development Squadron based in San Diego, California. SURFDEVRON, the Navy’s Surface Experiment Unit, also operates two Sea Hunter medium USVs, Zumwalt-class destroyers, Littoral First Combatants and other unmanned assets.
The Sea Hunters and Overlord ships have been transferred to SURFDEVRON to serve as test beds for the Navy to develop a concept of operations for unmanned surface ships – which the service says will be a key part of the future fleet.
Earlier this year, the Navy hosted its first major exercise using ships and unmanned aircraft as well as crewed ships and planes as a proof of concept.
In addition to the Ghost Fleet ships, the Navy will equip two other Overlord USVs (OUSVs) to inform the development of its Large Unmanned Surface Vehicle (LUSV) program ahead of the start of the 2023 fiscal year scheduled for the new class. .
“The Navy intends these ships to be armed with vertical launch system cells to fire defensive and offensive missiles – with Sailors aboard the manned ships overseeing targeting and firing decisions, as there would be no no personnel aboard the LUSV, “USNI News reported last year.
“The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have said they are far from comfortable with the concept of operations, technological maturity and reliability.
Last year, the Navy awarded $ 42 million in contracts for LUSV studies. Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Fincantieri Marinette, Bollinger Shipyards, Lockheed Martin and Gibbs & Cox each earned around $ 7 million to begin developing the LUSV concepts.