Navy starts second phase of “Ghost Fleet” unmanned vessel program

Written by Marine Log Staff
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A Ghost Fleet Overlord test vessel sits pier-side following a capstone demonstration during the conclusion of Phase I of the program in September. Two existing commercial fast supply vessels were converted into unmanned surface vessels (USVs) for Overlord testing, which will play an important role in informing the Navy’s new classes of USVs. (Photo by U.S. Navy)

The Navy’s Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC) has started the second phase of an unmanned vessel program that it calls “Ghost Fleet Overlord.”

The program, developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office (OSD SCO) in partnership with PEO USC, is to play a vital role in informing the Navy’s new classes of unmanned surface vessels (USVs).

Phase two of the program saw the award of contract modifications to two industry teams that participated in Phase I

Phase I converted two existing commercial fast supply vessels into USVs and focused on autonomy system integration; demonstration of navigational autonomy; and hull, mechanical and electrical system reliability upgrades.

Phase I concluded in September with a successful capstone demonstration of both Overlord vessels executing interactions compliant with the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). Along with reliability of systems tests, more than 600 hours of autonomy testing was successfully completed during Phase I, including several long-range autonomous transits in a complex navigational environment.

Phase II will be conducted using the same ships as in Phase I and will focus on the integration of government-furnished command-and-control systems and payloads and involve more complex and challenging naval experimentation. Phase II will complete in Fiscal Year 2021 at which point the Overlord vessels will transition to the Navy for further experimentation.

The experiences gleaned from both Phase I and II of Overlord are designed to inform and accelerate the Navy’s Large and Medium USV programs, which are managed by the same team in PEO USC.

The Navy issued a request for proposals on Sept. 5 for the award of multiple conceptual design contracts for the Large USV in fiscal 2020. A RFP for the development of the Medium USV was issued July 16.

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