The Navy has previously said the LDUSVs might fill the role of "arsenal ships" packed with stand-off missiles to provide additional firepower for a surface task force. Rear Admiral Crites said that a vertical launch system capability would be one requirement for the LDUSV. Crites comment that these ships will also be "sensors" indicates that they could also pack capable and diverse sensors suites, potentially including those not necessary found on manned ships. Doing so would offer commanders increased situational awareness across a broad front. The Navy over-arching unmanned surface vessel plan has three tiers – small, medium, and large – and the service has been very clear in the past that it expected the medium-sized types to fill the requirement for unmanned scouts operating ahead of larger surface action groups.
DARPA Image of a drone ship vessel called Sea Hunter, which is not the new LUSV/MUSV. Those do not exist yet. The Navy is building two new large drone ships to coordinate synchronized attacks, perform command and control across fleets of Unmanned Surface Vessels and conduct high-risk maritime missions such as anti-submarine operations, mine countermeasures, surface warfare, and forward-deployed surveillance. The new vessels, now in early stages of conceptual development, are intended to perform both manned and unmanned operations while networked to a smaller fleet of multi-mission USVs, Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems, Naval Sea Systems Command, told reporters at the Surface Naval Association Symposium.
The proliferation of robotic warships could make naval warfare safer for human beings. But it also could have the unintended effect of reducing the threshold for military action. Recent events in the Strait of Hormuz underscore that danger. In the summer of 2019 U.S. and Iranian forces each shot down a surveillance drone belonging to the other side, escalating tensions that began with U.S. president Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 deal limiting Iran's nuclear program. "The immediate danger from militarized artificial intelligence isn't hordes of killer robots, nor the exponential pace of a new arms race," Evan Karlik, a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, wrote for Nikkei Asian Review.
File photo - An unmanned 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boat from Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology on the James River in Newport News, Va.(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released) The U.S. Navy will launch a swarm of interconnected small attack drone boats on mock-combat missions to refine command and control technology and prepare its "Ghost Fleet" of autonomous, yet networked surface craft for war. Developed by the Office of Naval Research and Naval Sea Systems Command, "Ghost Fleet" represents a Navy strategy to surveil, counter, overwhelm and attack enemies in a coordinated fashion - all while keeping sailors on host ships at safer distances. The small boats, many of them called Unmanned Surface Vessels, are designed to conduct ISR missions, find and destroy mines and launch a range of attacks including electronic warfare and even mounted guns. The concept is to use advanced computer algorithms bringing new levels of autonomy to surface warfare, enabling ships to coordinate information exchange, operate in tandem without colliding and launch combined assaults. "Ghost Fleet is really helping us in the Command and Control and coms arena. The demonstration will allow us to learn lessons about integrated payloads with USVs," Capt.
China's Defence Ministry said it had been in talks with the United States about returning an underwater drone taken by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea, but the US was not helping by "hyping up" the issue. The drone was seized on Thursday - one of the most serious incidents between the two militaries in years - about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve it, US officials said. "China decided to return it to the US side in an appropriate manner, and China and the US have all along been in communication about it," the ministry said on its website. "During this process, the US side's unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this," it added.