Leidos has completed the initial performance trials of the US Navy’s first unmanned surface vehicle Sea Hunter, built as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) anti-submarine warfare continuous unmanned vessel (ACTUV) programme.

The technology demonstration system trials were conducted off the coast of San Diego, California, US.

During the trials, the 132ft-long trimaran vessel met all performance objectives for speed, manoeuvrability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration / deceleration, and fuel consumption of the vessel.

The test also intended to evaluate the vessel’s mechanical system reliability while at sea.

Leidos is planning to conduct further tests in the coming months to validate the vessel’s sensors, autonomy suite, and compliance with maritime collision regulations as well as proof-of-concept demonstrations for a range of US Navy missions.

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The Sea Hunter features a modular design which allows the integration of flexible mission payloads making it suitable for a range of tasks.

The ACTUV can operate in a range of maritime climates, and its hardware and software allows the vehicle to operate safely near manned maritime vessels in all weather and traffic conditions, day or night.

In 2012, Leidos was awarded a $59m contract by DARPA to design, build and test the ACTUV prototype through four phases.

"The Sea Hunter features a modular design which allows the integration of flexible mission payloads making it suitable for a range of tasks."

In 2014, DARPA signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Office of Naval research to fund an extended test phase of an ACTUV prototype to assess the capabilities of the vessel and several innovative payloads during open-water testing.

In 2018, the ACTUV programme is expected to be transitioned to the US Navy for use in anti-submarine warfare.

Image: Sea Hunter during its christening ceremony in Portland. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by John F. Williams / Released.