Admiral Merz added that this commitment sends a tremendous message to the ship-building industry, crucial to companies making the investments needed to meet the Navy’s coming requirements. “Every recent study we have done, several of them directed by Congress, has indicated that this capability if indispensable. In fact, absolutely essential if a more distributed, more lethal, more cost-imposing, all to complement the 355-ship Navy,” he said.
Potential adversaries are, of course, well into the development of unmanned surface ships as well. At just over a third the length of the Sea Hunter, China’s JARI USV unmanned “warship” is boasted to have the firepower of an Arleigh Burke destroyer.
In its 2021 budget request to Congress, the U.S. Navy asked for $580 million for research and development of unmanned vessels. The appropriation is essential so the future Navy would include large and medium unmanned surface vessels and large unmanned submarines.
J.W. Middendorf, a former Secretary of the Navy, is a trustee of The Heritage Foundation. He wrote The Great Nightfall: How We Win the New Cold War (www.thegreatnightfall.com) to warn of the threats we face from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Image: Reuters.