The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Gibbs & Cox, Inc. a multi-phase contract to develop and demonstrate a Connectorless Sea Train concept. DARPA has exercised the base development phase for $9,450,339.
According to DARPA, the Sea Train program aims to demonstrate long range deployment capabilities for a distributed fleet of tactical unmanned surface vessels. The program seeks to enable extended transoceanic transit and long-range naval operations by exploiting the efficiencies of a system of connected vessels (Sea Train).
The goal, says DARPA, is to develop and demonstrate approaches that exploit wave-making resistance reductions to overcome the range limitations inherent in medium unmanned surface vessels. DARPA envisions sea trains formed by physically connecting vessels with various degrees of freedom between the vessels, or vessels sailing in collaborative formations at various distances between the vessels.
Gibbs & Cox, the largest independent and privately-owned naval architecture and marine engineering firm in the U.S., says it will leverage its capabilities to integrate advancements in integrated system design, robotic controls, autonomy, and hydrodynamic optimization. This new technical approach, which the firm calls ARMADA (Articulated Resistance Minimized Autonomous Deployment Asset), seeks to reshape maritime vessel capabilities, enabling long-range deployments of medium-sized autonomous surface vessels without the need for either in-port or at-sea refueling.
The firm says that its selection by DARPA for the Sea Train program, combined with other recent awards, illustrates its rapid expansion in the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) industry.