• Damien Lane

U.S. Navy builds first drone battleships

New U.S. Navy drone battleships nicknamed the "Ghost Fleet" will be the first unmanned vessels in the U.S Navy. The concept of the unmanned vessels was born in 2010 out of the Pentagon's so-called "mad science" wing. The boats perform on command with control across fleets of Unmanned Vessels and conduct high- risk missions such as anti-submarine operations.

The new vessels are now in the early stages of development and are intended to perform both manned and unmanned operations while networked to a smaller fleet for many types of missions. The Program Manager of Unmanned Maritime Systems and the Naval Sea Systems Command told reporters at the Surface Naval Association Symposium that the Navy is integrating Large USVs (LUSV) and Medium USVs (MUSV) into the architecture, as well as a large part of a future surface combat force.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a single integrated combat system shared across the entire combat remote system for the Navy. The team that designed the battleship explained that the initial focus for the new larger surface drones was for the ship to be commanded and controlled remotely.

The Pentagon's request from DARPA was colossal: 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. One of the ships weighs 140 tons and is 132 feet long.

One of the new ships is called the "Sea Hunter" and cost the Navy $20 million dollars to build. The second boat is called "Arleigh Burke." The boat type is a destroyer and cost $700,000 just to build and put the heavy weapons on the boat.