project spotlight | 8 February 2024

U.S. Navy Selects Vendors for Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Program


The Navy’s Program Office Advanced Undersea Systems (PMS 394), with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), has selected three vendors to prototype and develop Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) platforms.

February 8, 2024 (Mountain View, CA ) — Undersea warfare is critical to success in the Pacific and other contested environments, providing needed autonomous underwater sensing and payload delivery in dispersed, long-range, deep and contested environments is key. Crewed submarines are high-value, high-resource capital platforms necessary for crucial combat missions. In particular, the U.S. military requires a fleet of Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (LDUUVs) with diverse capabilities.  

One of the critical capability areas of the LDUUV effort is the need for long-endurance undersea craft that can deliver payloads and effectors against adversaries for Subsea and Seabed Warfare (SSW) as well as Undersea Warfare (USW) scenarios. To solve this, the U.S. Navy's Program Office for Advanced Undersea Systems (PMS 394) partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to identify commercial technology that delivers a potentially transformative effect in these maritime scenarios.

Following a rigorous evaluation process, DIU awarded three prototype agreements to Oceaneering International, Kongsberg Discovery, and Anduril Industries. These agreements highlight the importance of improving underwater capabilities, leveraging unmanned systems, and tackling present and future maritime dangers in a cost-effective and scalable manner. The successful prototypes will enable future capabilities in SSW and USW missions. This project will also drive advancements in underwater engineering, autonomous systems, communications, and shape employment of LDUUV for future Naval operations. 

"NAVSEA, in partnership with the DIU, has selected the best in industry from industry to rapidly advance new undersea capabilities in the Subsea and Seabed Warfare domain,” said Capt. Grady Hill, program manager for PMS 394. “We are accelerating our development plans by utilizing rapid contracting authorities to speed capability to the Fleet."

This is a joint effort, also supported by Program Manager Expeditionary Missions (PMS 408), Program Office for Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), The United States Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), Navy Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU APL), Penn State Applied Research Laboratories (PSU ARL), and Undersea Unmanned Vehicle Squadron ONE (UUVRON ONE).  Collectively, with DIU and PMS 394, these organizations will provide rigorous assessments in order to optimize alignment with an evolving global defense landscape, beginning with live demonstrations in 2024.

DIU’s prototype contracts, coupled with collaboration among key Navy partners, represent a monumental stride in accelerating development of the nation’s maritime defense capabilities. This strategic initiative positions the U.S. to sustain a decisive edge in securing and advancing its maritime interests – representing a proactive approach to upholding technological superiority, and commitment to shaping the future of naval defense.