Lockheed Martin has collaborated with Vigor Works for the US Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV) competition.

The partnership follows after the US Navy signed contracts with six companies worth a total of $41m for the research of LUSVs earlier this month.

Huntington Ingalls, Bollinger Shipyards Lockport, Marinette Marine, Marinette, Gibbs & Cox and Austal USA are the other awardees.

As part of a $7m contract awarded by the US Navy, Lockheed Martin will deliver a study for an integrated and capable payload ship, as a part of the competition.

The payload ship will have the capability of patrolling for extended durations of time.

As the prime contractor, the company will oversee the programme and provide platform integration, systems engineering, combat management, automation and cyber solutions.

Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems vice-president and general manager Joe DePietro said: “The Lockheed Martin team brings together nearly 200 years of combined experience in shipbuilding, integration, automation and autonomy.

“Our team is energised by and focused on delivering the Navy what they’ve asked for – a design for an affordable, low-risk ship capable of bringing the Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) vision to life.”

The design uses a commercial ship that will be enhanced with automation, autonomy and cybersecurity elements to feature a payload.

It uses Lockheed Martin’s platform-agnostic Sikorsky MATRIX technology and AXIS control technology.

Lockheed Martin will provide the study within 12 months ahead of the next stage of the competition which is the LUSV Detailed Design and Construction competition.

Vigor business development vice-president Richard McCreary said: “We are honoured to be part of the Lockheed Martin team and to leverage our extensive fabrication expertise, including previously building 16 USVs of various designs and sizes.

“We are ready to deliver a concept design that will help the Navy deploy a safe, efficient and affordable LUSV fleet for the future.”

Earlier this week, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper outlined plans for the US Navy’s future naval force fleet to maintain maritime superiority.