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U.S. Pacific Fleet Stands Up Unmanned-Vessel Squadron

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The USV Sea Hunter arrives in Honolulu after an autonomous transit from California, 2018 (USN)

By The Maritime Executive 05-24-2019 05:08:13

The U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet has created a new unit to support experimentation and fleet integration of unmanned surface vessels - not small drone boats, but yacht- or OSV-sized vessels. 

Vice Adm. Richard Brown, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet's surface naval force, announced the establishment of the new Surface Development Squadron ONE (SURFDEVRON ONE) on May 22. The squadrone will integrate unmanned surface vessels (USV) and support fleet experimentation on new warfighting concepts and capabilities. 

SURFDEVRON’s primary functions will be to:

  - Experiment with new warfighting capabilities with medium-sized USVs (like Sea Hunter) and a future class of large USVs

  - Develop material and technical solutions to tactical challenges.

  - Coordinate the doctrine, organization, training, material, logistics, personnel and facilities requirements for unmanned surface systems.

  - Provide maintenance, training and manning oversight for the three Zumwalt-class destroyers.

The squadron is a renamed version of Zumwalt Squadron ONE, which handled the post-delivery integration of the Zumwalt class, and it retains the previous unit's responsibilities. Capt. Henry Adams has been appointed its first commander.

“ZRON ONE embodied Adm. Zumwalt’s legacy of warfighting innovation by leading fleet integration of the revolutionary ship class that bears his name,” said outgoing commander Capt. Scott Carroll. “Establishing this new squadron – with its focus on experimentation and future warfighting technology – fulfills and extends ZRON’s purpose to the rest of the Surface Navy. Although the name has changed, I’m proud to note that ADM Zumwalt’s innovative legacy will persist.”

The stand-up of SURFDEVRON ONE will be carried out in phases over the next several years until it reaches full capacity. Pacific Fleet says that the squadron's rollout reflects the urgency with which the Navy intends to pursue unmanned system capabilities.