The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) has started operational testing of Saildrone‘s new Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) in the Gulf of Aqaba, off the coast of Jordan, as part of an initiative to integrate new unmanned systems and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into U.S. 5th Fleet operations.
NAVCENT began exercise Digital Horizon while launching the Saildrone Explorer USV into the water for the first time from the Royal Jordanian naval base in Aqaba. In November 2021, U.S. and Jordanian naval leaders announced the base would become a joint hub for Saildrone operations in the Red Sea.
“These are exciting times for Task Force 59 as we team with the Royal Jordanian Navy to establish our hub for Red Sea operations in Aqaba and deploy some of our new maritime robotics,” said Capt. Michael Brasseur, commander of NAVCENT’s new task force for unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.
The Saildrone Explorer is a 23-foot-long, 16-foot-tall USV reliant on wind power for propulsion. The USV features sensors powered through solar energy for creating a shared picture of the surrounding seas.
After establishing Task Force 59 in September, NAVCENT is in the early stages of integrating unmanned systems and AI into the U.S. 5th Fleet operational environment.
“Our Saildrones leverage machine learning and AI to enhance maritime domain awareness, extending the digital horizon with a sustainable, zero-carbon solution,” said Brasseur.