US Navy to advance integration of unmanned surface vessels

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 24 May 2019 (Last Updated May 24th, 2019 15:08)

The US Navy has established a new squadron designed to integrate unmanned surface vessels into the naval fleet and support experimentation for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG 1000) fleet.

US Navy to advance integration of unmanned surface vessels
Captain Henry Adams delivers remarks during the establishment ceremony for Surface Development Squadron (SURFDEVRON) ONE. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Woody S. Paschall/Released.

The US Navy has established a new squadron designed to integrate unmanned surface vessels into the naval fleet and support experimentation for the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer (DDG 1000) fleet.

Known as Surface Development Squadron ONE (SURFDEVRON ONE), the squadron will focus on accelerating the delivery of new surface warfighting concepts and capabilities to the fleet in line with the National Defense Strategy (NDS).

The Navy converted Zumwalt Squadron ONE to form SURFDEVRON ONE. The formation of the squadron was announced during a combined change of command/establishment ceremony in San Diego.

US Pacific Fleet Naval Surface Force commander vice admiral Richard Brown said: “By standing up a command dedicated to developing warfighting capabilities and experimentation, we will ensure the US Surface Navy remains the premiere surface navy in the world.”

The service plans to carry out SURFDEVRON ONE in phases over the next several years. The phased-approach will support the squadron to reach full capacity and capability.

"By standing up a command dedicated to developing warfighting capabilities and experimentation, we will ensure the US Surface Navy remains the premiere surface navy in the world."

SURFDEVRON ONE will handle the maintenance, training and manning oversight for medium and large US Navy unmanned surface vessels, including Sea Hunter, and three Zumwalt-class destroyer ships.

Captain Henry Adams will serve as the first commodore of the squadron, which will be headquartered on board Naval Base San Diego.

Adams said: “We look forward to the challenge and to working with the broader community of interest – both inside and outside of the Navy – as we collaborate to realise SURFDEVRON ONE’s full potential.”

Apart from experimentation, the squadron will be responsible for developing material and technical solutions to tactical challenges, and coordinating training, material, logistics, personnel and facilities requirements for unmanned surface systems.

According to USNI, SURFDEVRON will be fully ready in fiscal year 2024 to execute the mission of integrating US Navy unmanned surface vessels.

The report added that the squadron will initially work on USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) as USS Michael Monsoor is yet to complete its combat system activation and the third is still undergoing construction.