Naval architecture firm Gibbs & Cox said it has been awarded a multi-phase contract from the U.S.' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop and demonstrate a connectorless "Sea Train" concept.
DARPA's 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.
The goal 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.
DARPA has now exercised the base development phase for close to $9.5 million, and Gibbs & Cox said it will leverage its capabilities to integrate advancements in integrated system design, robotic controls, autonomy and hydrodynamic optimization. This new technical approach, coined by Gibbs and Cox as 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.