US Navy deploys unmanned warships in the Pacific to attend Rim of the Pacific Exercise

The U.S. Navy deployed three unmanned warships this week to start and attend its biannual Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

The move shows the Navy is integrating these unmanned ships into an area of ​​the world that could potentially clash with China.

“The future is here,” RIMPAC 22 organizers said in a Facebook post.

The Nomad U.S. Unmanned Warship

The Ranger, Nomad, and Sea Hunter were all developed as part of the Navy’s Ghost Fleet Overlord program. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense’s Office of Strategic Capabilities (SCO) began transferring four experimental ships from the Ghost Fleet Overlord program to the Navy’s fleet.

The Ghost Fleet Overlord program was originally intended as an experimental testing ground for unmanned surface ships (USVs).

The unmanned fleet program arose as the Navy looks to use smaller manned and unmanned vessels to handle distributed operations in contested waters, such as might arise in a hypothetical conflict with China happening.

The Sea Hunter U.S. Unmanned Warship

While these new experimental ships do not yet have a clear role, they could be useful in electronic warfare missions, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine or mine clearance missions, and even stand-off roles. These ships can aid in long-range targeting and acquisition in contested waters by tracking information on enemy operations and relaying them to manned adversaries for target acquisition.

Ultimately, these unmanned ships could also carry their own weapon systems to intercept enemy targets. Last September, the Ranger unmanned ship deployed SM-6 anti-aircraft missiles.

SM-6 missiles like those deployed by the Ranger can be used to shoot down helicopters, drones, and anti-ship cruise missiles, as well as ballistic missiles in their final stages of launch.

The Ranger U.S. Unmanned Warship

The ability to deploy these missile systems in contested waters could be useful for U.S. operations in a conflict with China, as they would have to deal with Chinese weapons systems designed to block access to the Indo-Pacific.

The unmanned ships will work alongside manned ships from the United States and 26 other countries during RIMPAC 22.