The US Navy has reportedly launched and recovered an underwater drone from its USS North Dakota submarine, which is said to be its first such mission.

The submarine-launched unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV) are considered to be cost-effective alternative to extend the reach of the US Navy’s submarine fleet.

The Virginia-class vessel completed its two-month mission in the Mediterranean Sea, and returned to its base in Groton, US.

USS North Dakota commanding officer captain Douglas Gordon was quoted by Associated Press as saying: "We can do a dual mission.

"UUVs do their thing while we do other operations."

A shelter attached to the top of the submarine was used to launch the Hydroid-manufactured Remus 600 drone.

Navy undersea capabilities programme manager captain Carl Hartsfield said that the drone deployed by the USS North Dakota can be configured to carry various payloads.

"The drone deployed by the USS North Dakota can be configured to carry various payloads."

Hydroid’s drone can be equipped with video cameras, GPS devices and sonar technology.

Since 1970s, the navy has used unmanned vehicles for training purposes to replicate enemy submarines. The UUVs were also used to detect mines and map the ocean floor.

The military is exploring ways to deploy drones for other purposes, including intelligence gathering and even anti-submarine warfare.

In 2010, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, launched an undersea drone that travelled from Newport to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, US.

Image: USS North Dakota during trials. Photo: courtesy of US Navy Photo / Released.