Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV)
On 08 August 2019 the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced that it intended to issue a solicitation, N00024-19-R-6302, for the development of the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV). The MUSV will be a pier-launched, self-deploying modular, open architecture (OA), surface vessel capable of autonomous safe navigation and mission execution.
In recent decades, the military roles and contributions of unmanned air and ground vehicles have grown dramatically, and this trend appears likely to continue. However, unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) — maritime vehicles uninhabited by personnel that maintain continuous, substantial contact with the surface—have received less attention.
USVs have greater potential payload capacity and endurance than comparably sized unmanned systems in other domains. They are able to use higher-density energy sources than UUVs (hydrocarbons instead of batteries), and, unlike UAVs, they do not need to burn fuel merely to maintain their vertical position; if desired, they can move relatively slowly for days or weeks without refueling.
Early efforts included the Navy Unmanned Surface Vehicle Master Plan (2007) and the USV portions of The Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2011–2036 (2011). In 2013, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Assessment Division (OPNAV N81) asked RAND to research the prospective suitability of USVs for U.S. Navy missions and functions. RAND suggested that in dangerous environments, such as minefields, it is far better to use unmanned platforms than manned ones. Moreover, a reduction in operational risk could allow a more aggressive posture that would force an adversary to change tactics or increase resource expenditures.
According to RAND, : "First, USVs could uniquely enable cross-domain integration, increasing the capabilities of other unmanned vehicles or networks. USVs can leverage their relatively large payloads, large reserves of power, and long endurance to provide services for other unmanned platforms—e.g., physically transporting them, preprocessing data for them, and providing electric power via a tether. Second, USVs could be highly effective in overcoming challenging anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environments, particularly in military deception, information operations, electronic warfare, and cyberwarfare missions. USVs can help to counter A2/AD challenges by reducing risks to personnel and capital assets; dispersing capabilities into small, hard-to-target nodes; and expanding tactical choices by creating new concepts of employment. Third, we found that increased investment in USV research, development, and acquisition could facilitate technology transfers to other unmanned and manned R&D programs."
RAND concluded that USVs were " particularly suitable for missions such as characterizing the physical environment, observation and collection regarding adversaries, mine warfare, military deception/information operations/electronic warfare, defense against small boats, testing and training, search and rescue, and the support of other unmanned vehicles. However, USVs need advanced autonomy and assured communications to complete complex missions, as well as any missions in complex environments. Autonomous seakeeping and maritime traffic avoidance are USV-specific capabilities that likely need to be developed with U.S. Navy involvement."
DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). ONR will continue developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle—the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
The Office of Naval Research is investigating a self-deploying, highly autonomous multi-mission/multi-payload USV capable of operating with Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs)/Surface Action Groups (SAGs) at very low operating cost – enabling a paradigm in naval warfare of hybrid manned/unmanned ships. It would field highly autonomous USVs that can conduct specific behaviors (conducive to missions): examples are patrol, classify, track and trail.
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) intends to issue a solicitation, N00024-19-R-6302, for the development of the Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV). The MUSV will be a pier-launched, self-deploying modular, open architecture (OA), surface vessel capable of autonomous safe navigation and mission execution.
MUSVs are defined as vessels between 12 and 50 meters in length. NAVSEA is taking an accelerated approach with industry to leverage existing, manned or unmanned surface ship designs that can be designed and/or modified to rapidly deliver an unmanned surface ship capability.
To support Navy mission requirements, key attributes of Medium USVs include extended vessel range and cruising speed, and high reliability. The delivered solution should be cyber compliant per current instructions. Specific attributes of the desired Medium USV include:
- Endurance of 4,500 nm or more at 16 knots transit speed or higher; calculation should include maintaining a 10% fuel reserve
- Sustained speed of 24 knots (Threshold) or more (27+ knots Objective) in calm water
- Capable of using Naval Distillate Fuel NATO F-76 (Threshold; Objective is ability to use either F-76 or NATO F-44, also known as JP-5)
- Capable of remaining sufficiently stable to operate payloads in Sea State 4 (per NATO STANAG 4194) or higher
- Capable of surviving in Sea State 5 (per NATO STANAG 4194) or higher
- Capable of operating for 60 days (Threshold) or more (90 days Objective) without any manned maintenance, e.g. to shift lubricating oil or fuel oil strainers
- MUSV’s expected service life is 10 years (Threshold; 15 years Objective) with heavy usage.
- 300 kW (Threshold) to 500 kW (Objective) total power generation capability
- Topside space and sufficiently reinforced deck to support one standard 40 ft shipping container and one standard 20 ft shipping container, laden to normal maximum weight. These can be adjacent to each other or separate from each other. Threshold is 180 degree field of view from each container, while Objective is 270 degree field of view. Designed and operated in such a way that failure of any single component of the propulsion drive train will not reduce vessel maximum speed below 16 knots (Threshold; 20 knots Objective.) Likewise failure of any single component of the electrical generation and distribution system should not reduce electrical generation and distribution capacity below 200 kW.
- Short-term berthing for necessary Sailors to Surge personnel standards (e.g. Part II, Figure 4-4) in NAVSEA Technical Publication T9640-AC-DSP-010/HAB Revision 1 dated 21 December 2016. Threshold is four Sailors and Objective is zero Sailors
- Notional tasks for crew during short-duration stays on the vessel include piloting in/out of harbor, fueling at sea, and conducting emergency repairs topside and/or in engineering spaces
- Short-duration crew will be unarmed and the vessel will not require a dedicated rescue vessel to recover a person from the water. Two redundant life rafts shall be included.
- Capable of piloting into and out of port with a tug and a crew of 4 or fewer (Threshold; Objective: remote piloting without a tug)
- Capable of Fueling At Sea (FAS) with a crew of 4 (Threshold; Objective 0) or fewer in environmental conditions through Sea State 3 (per NATO STANAG 4194); astern refueling is an acceptable approach.
- Capable of autonomous safe pilotage to include path planning, static obstacle avoidance and mission behaviors. Pilotage shall require the ability to navigate around charted obstacles to include buoys and waters shallower than the vessel’s depth. Objective: Threshold, plus capable of autonomously sensing its environment and maneuvering with respect to other moving vessels consistent with the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)
The Government will furnish communications equipment. In accordance with 10 U.S.C. Section 7309, no major component of the hull or superstructure of the MUSV may be constructed in a foreign shipyard.
MUSV has no requirement for a Flight Deck, a VERTREP spot, or its own davit /small boat. The vessel must have some method to assist Sailors embarking/debarking, through Sea State 3 per NATO STANAG 4194; request identify how this would be accomplished, e.g. via a retractable Jacob’s Ladder. The vessel should be built and classed according to relevant classification rules, and should be capable of unrestricted open ocean going service. Exceptions for unmanned operation shall be permitted.
An autonomy architecture that is compliant with the Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture (UMAA). This allows for modularity of different autonomy components to include sensors, software components (i.e. navigation, obstacle avoidance, machinery control, health monitoring, mission behaviors) and payloads. This architecture will be capable of being monitored and controlled remotely by an off-board Control system. The USV shall be capable of being monitored and controlled by 1 person.
The vessel has no self-defense requirements. Cameras should provide complete coverage so remote oversight personnel are aware of any boarding attempt. Resistant to boarding from unauthorized personnel while easy to access by appropriately trained and equipped U.S. forces. Resistant to physical tampering from unauthorized personnel
The MUSV documents contain classified or restricted disclosure information. To obtain this information when it becomes available companies must request a copy of classified or restricted disclosure attachments for RFP N00024-19-R-6302. Companies must provide the Contracting Officer a completed Security Classification Specification, DD Form 254, indicating that the requesting company has a Defense Security Service (DSS) issued SECRET facility clearance, providing for SECRET personnel clearances and SECRET safeguarding capability.
In October 2018, the Government issued the pre-solicitation via Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). The Government intends to update the pre-solicitation later this January with draft request for proposal (RFP) information (e.g. performance specifications, statement of work, CLIN structure, CDRLs, etc.) for industry to review and provide feedback. The Government intends to post the final MUSV solicitation / RFP in early Spring 2019. Industry will have 60 calendar days from final RFP to submit a full proposal for MUSV. The Government will specify the submission time and date in the final MUSV solicitation / RFP.
Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC), Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office (PMS 406) plans to host an Industry Day to discuss the NAVSEA requirement for the development of the MUSV. The purpose of this Industry Day is for the Government to brief interested Contractors in order to improve Industry's understanding of the MUSV prototyping requirement and anticipated contracting approach. The Industry Day will be planned for February 12th, 2019 with one on one sessions the same day. The Industry Day event will be held within walking distance of the Washington Navy Yard. The exact address will be provided via separate correspondence to pre-registered and confirmed companies only.
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