When a submarine shows up on the scene, it's a game-changer in terms of naval warfare. Unless a ship has the capabilities to detect a sub — let alone take it out — it's pretty much at the submersible's mercy. With that in mind, the Navy and DARPA are creating a robotic warship that could chase a submarine down to the ends of the Earth.
Known as ACTUVs (which stands for — and take a breath before you say this — Anti-submarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel), the autonomous craft would be equipped with sonar sensors and communication equipment so that it could track a sub and constantly relay its position to friendly vessels and sub-hunters. It would also use its sensors and onboard AI to plot its course so that it steers around other ships, not into them.
This would fill a role that's normally a dangerous one for a fleet, which would employ a faster, smaller vessel such as a frigate to pinpoint a sub using sonar or accompanying aircraft, all the while doing its best to stay out of range of the sub's torpedoes. Once dialed in by a ACTUV, a specialized anti-sub warship such as the USS Port Royale, pictured above, could go in for the kill if needed.
If the submarine did happen to destroy the pursuing ACTUV, it would actually only create more problems for it. Not only would there be no loss of life, the burning wreck would be just as handy in marking the last position of the submersible, meaning it would have to expend more its limited resources in getting out of the area instead of carrying on with its mission.
Via The Register