The US Navy’s new Task Force 59 (TF59) has integrated and assessed MARTAC’s MANTAS T12 uncrewed surface vessels (USV), which operated alongside other ships in the Arabian Gulf.

The activity was performed as part of the New Horizon exercise, which is claimed to be the first at-sea evolution for Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) TF59.

During the exercise, the MANTAS T-12 USV operated alongside crewed US patrol craft and maritime assets of the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF).

This activity means NAVCENT integrated USVs with crewed assets in the US 5th Fleet area of operations for the first time.

NAVCENT US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces commander vice-admiral Brad Cooper said: “Working with our regional partners on unmanned systems integration is crucial to enhancing collective maritime domain awareness.

“Bahrain, as our first regional partner to collaborate with Task Force 59 during an at-sea exercise, demonstrates the strengthening of our strategic relationship.”

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The first phase of the New Horizon exercise saw operators controlling the USVs on board patrol coastal ship USS Firebolt.

The final phase involved the participation of a larger force of NAVCENT’s crewed and uncrewed maritime and aerial assets.

The Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF) and Bahrain Coast Guard also took part in the exercise.

Other participating units included patrol boat USCGC Maui, an SH-60S helicopter, a V-BAT UAV, and an RBNF patrol craft.

Both the US and Bahraini forces practiced operating the ships and boats with a view to enhance interoperability and mutual understanding.

Task Force 59 commander captain Michael Brasseur said: “This is a significant milestone for our new task force as we accelerate the integration of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into complex, cross-domain operations at sea. Real-world evaluation is essential.”