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December 14, 2021updated 22 Dec 2021 11:57am

US NAVCENT begins testing of Saildrone USV in Gulf of Aqaba

This testing is part of an initiative to integrate new uncrewed systems and AI into US 5th Fleet operational environment.

The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has commenced testing of a new uncrewed surface vessel (USV) the Gulf of Aqaba off Jordan’s coast.

Called Saildrone Explorer, the USV has been launched from the Royal Jordanian naval base for the first-time during exercise Digital Horizon.

In November, naval leaders of the US and Jordan announced that this Aqaba naval base would serve as a joint hub for Saildrone operations within Red Sea.

The testing is part of an initiative aimed at integrating new uncrewed systems and artificial intelligence (AI) into US 5th Fleet operational environment.

NAVCENT uncrewed systems and artificial intelligence task force commander captain Michael Brasseur said: “These are exciting times for Task Force 59 as we team with the Royal Jordanian Navy to establish our hub for Red Sea operations in Aqaba and deploy some of our new maritime robotics.”

The 23ft-long, 16ft-tall Saildrone Explorer is dependent on wind power for propulsion.

The USV features sensors that are powered through solar energy for creating a ‘shared picture’ of the surrounding seas.

After establishing Task Force 59 (TF59) in September this year, NAVCENT is in the early stages of integrating uncrewed systems and AI into the 5th Fleet.

Brasseur added: “Our saildrones leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance maritime domain awareness, extending the digital horizon with a sustainable, zero-carbon solution.”

In October, TF59 integrated and assessed MARTAC’s MANTAS T12 USV, which operated along with other ships in the Arabian Gulf.

Earlier this month, the task force began at-sea operational tests for a MANTAS T-38 USV off the Bahrain coast.

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