US Navy assumes responsibility for Overlord unmanned vessel program

A Ghost Fleet Overlord Program testbed vessel (Photo: NAVSEA)

The US Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) has officially transitioned the Ghost Fleet Overlord Program to the US Navy’s Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC).

SCO initiated the Ghost Fleet Overlord Program in 2018 to accelerate the navy’s adoption of unmanned and autonomous systems.

In partnership with the navy, the objective of SCO’s Overlord Program was to convert large, commercially available vessels to autonomous operation. Designers installed perception and autonomy systems, automated and improved ship system reliability for extended missions and developed the command control and communications architecture.

The program’s objective was achieved through long endurance transits and participation in fleet exercises. The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said the fleet exercises demonstrated the feasibility of unmanned surface vessels (USV), specifically their ability to host and employ modular payloads through a realistic set of concepts of operations (CONOPS).

SCO developed two prototype surface vessels to serve as testbeds for the navy’s Medium and Large Unmanned Surface Vessel Programs of Record. During the program, Overlord USV Prototypes 1 (Nomad) and 2 (Ranger) took part in multiple fleet level exercises and demonstrations, traveled 28,982 nautical miles in autonomous mode, and tested numerous payloads.

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