The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has revealed that the No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS) programme has successfully moved into the second phase.

The Phase 2 will involve development of a new medium uncrewed surface vessel (MUSV), which can be deployed to undertake missions at the sea and carry a payload at tactically useful ranges.

DARPA has already selected Serco’s design for this phase. The company was also selected for Phase 1 of this project.

As part of Phase 2, Serco will finalise a ship design, develop it and then evaluate the ship before deploying it at the sea for a three-month demonstration event.

In this phase, Serco will work together with Caterpillar, DRS Naval Power Systems, Metron, Beier Integrated Systems, Submergence Group, ICE FLOE’s Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Serco’s Maritime Engineering Operations division and Thrustmaster of Texas.

DARPA Tactical Technology Office programme manager Gregory Avicola said: “NOMARS plans to demonstrate a next-generation completely uncrewed ship that will enable entirely new concepts of operations.

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“We will enable methods of deploying and maintaining very large fleets of uncrewed surface vessels to serve as partners, across the globe, for larger crewed combatants of US Navy.”

The Phase 1 of the programme involved development of a Design Space Exploration toolset by Serco to assess spaces with various parameters, while testing several ship designs to meet performance objectives and constraints.

This tool was used for creating a set of ship designs, ranging between 170mt and 270mt. It was followed by refining of all the designs into a single ship, named Defiant, for the preliminary design review (PDR).

With this 210mt MUSV-class ship Defiant, DARPA aims to achieve ultra-reliability by integrating distributed hybrid power generation, podded propulsors and high-capacity batteries.