A vessel called NOMAD from the Navy's unmanned Ghost Fleet Overlord program, similar to the one pictured, completed a transit of the Panama Canal last week, the branch said on Monday. Photo courtesy of Defense Department Strategic Capabilities Office
June 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense said Monday that the Ghost Fleet Overlord program's second unmanned surface vessel recently completed its trip to the Pacific.
The Unmanned Surface Vessel named NOMAD traveled 4,421 nautical miles, 98% in autonomous mode, from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast, the DOD said in a statement Monday.
GFO vessel RANGER finished a similar trip in October 2020. Both were in manual model when they passed through the Panama Canal.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office, partnering with the U.S. Navy, conducted the second long-range trip, according to the statement.
Surface Development Squadron One sailors carried out the remote mission for the NOMAD trip, which allowed for additional testing of vessel endurance, autonomous operations, hull mechanical and hull electrical systems reliability.
"This is another significant milestone for SCO's Ghost Fleet Overlord program and supports the Navy's Unmanned Campaign Framework by adding a second Overlord vessel to the West Coast," SCO Director Jay Dryer said in the statement.
"The SCO Ghost Fleet Overlord program serves to inform Navy prototype efforts by integrating mature technologies to accelerate service priorities and is a key piece of the build a little, test a little, and learn a lot philosophy articulated in the Navy Unmanned Campaign Framework," Dryer said.
Two additional GFO prototype USVs are currently under construction to expand and accelerate the Navy's experimentation and testing.
The U.S. Navy announced the launch of GFO, the second phase of its USV program in 2019, which officials said will help inform development and use of the branch's eventual USV fleet.
The first phase was focused on converting commercial fast supply vessels into USVs for testing.
The GFO program, executed by SCO, is slated to conclude in early 2022 and transition to the Navy for further experimentation, the DOD said Monday.
"Our close partnership with SCO on the Overlord program is accelerating the technology demonstration, CONOPS [concept of operations] development, and operational command and control of unmanned surface vessels in direct alignment with the Navy's plans," said Capt. Pete Small, Navy program manager for USVs.