Navy's Task Force 59 launches Saildrone USV

By Audrey Decker / December 13, 2021 at 12:28 PM

The Navy's 5th Fleet has begun operationally testing the Saildrone unmanned surface vessel in the northern Red Sea as part of exercise Digital Horizon.

Saildrones use machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance maritime domain awareness, according to today's press release.

The USV is used to collect three types of data: weather forecasting, ocean mapping and MDA intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Saildrone CEO Richard Jenkins told Inside Defense in an interview earlier this month.

The Navy has not purchased any vessels from Saildrone because the company operates vehicles for customers and provides data in real time, Jenkins said.

"Ongoing evaluations of new unmanned systems in U.S. 5th Fleet help drive discovery, innovation and fleet integration. The U.S. Navy is learning important lessons that will inform future operational employment," the press release states.

The Navy's 5th Fleet launched Task Force 59 in September to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.

Saildrone is a part of a larger Navy effort to bring more unmanned systems into the U.S. Central Command arena after the establishment of Task Force 59, which was funded with $6.5 million in fiscal year 2021.