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Kirkhill

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rolls-royce-unmanned-ship-1800.jpg


This Unmanned Rolls Royce Ship Concept Could Launch Drone Choppers

Military.com 12 Jan 2018 By Hope Hodge Seck
As the Navy strives toward its goal of a 355-ship fleet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has said unmanned systems may be a key to that growth.

For the service's consideration: a fully unmanned ship concept by Rolls-Royce that can spend 100 days at sea without a port visit, and launch and recover unmanned helicopters from a small rear deck.

Last September, Rolls-Royce rolled out the plan for a 60-meter unmanned naval vessel, shown in concept art sporting a sleek stripe and surrounded by quadcopters.

At the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium near Washington, D.C., this week, the company displayed concept art for a variant designed like a Navy ship, with Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopters on its helo deck.

While the Navy is pursuing unmanned surface vessels, such as Textron's Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle, for missions including harbor security and minesweeping, the size of the Rolls-Royce unmanned concept puts it in a separate category.

"I think when you're getting that big, it's a ship," said Davis Sanford, naval campaigns lead for Rolls-Royce.

In addition to providing a launching platform for the Fire Scout, the as-yet unnamed unmanned ship could be used for asymmetric warfare, mine countermeasures, or gear transport, Sanford told Military.com.

https://www.military.com/defensetech/2018/01/12/unmanned-rolls-royce-ship-concept-could-launch-drone-choppers.html

And I keep hearing discussions about the need for large crews to manage damage control at the same time as I hear people lamenting that the navy can't find bodies to fill existing billets.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I think people will be shocked when one of these is hit and burn to the waterline, or sinks because there is no damage control and the automatic systems did not survive the first hit. Or that a bunch Yemen/Somalia pirates have disabled and boarded the vessel and taken it over and broadcast it on Youtube.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Colin P said:
I think people will be shocked when one of these is hit and burn to the waterline, or sinks because there is no damage control and the automatic systems did not survive the first hit. Or that a bunch Yemen/Somalia pirates have disabled and boarded the vessel and taken it over and broadcast it on Youtube.

It wouldn't shock me one bit if that were to occur.  Depending upon what sort of damage it was facing it would do either really good or really bad.  Smart valves, as installed on the Zumwalt are incredible with their ability reroute around damaged piping etc.  Of course, as an autonomous vehicle there would eventually be the tipping point where it wouldn't be able to recover and survive.  That is also a possibility with a manned vessel too.  What would be interesting for me would be, just how long would the fast response of an autonomous system stretch out that tipping point from happening, if at all.
 

Colin Parkinson

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What humans bring to the damage control side is a very adept sensor package, with the ability to assess that information and to act upon it. An autonomous vessel will be completely dependent on it’s sensor net to provide a response to damage and then on the controls being able to function to carry out the actions to respond. I suspect the “tipping point” will come sooner than later than with a manned crew. The day may come when mobile robots can conduct the damage control using both their own and the ships sensors to deduce the correct actions to be taken. However for the first few generations, I suspect the damage control systems will be minimal just to keep the costs down and won’t be the major focus until a few are lost.
 

Kirkhill

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My sense is that crew costs (and associated hotel costs) would decrease but, perhaps, you might see an increase in insurance rates (at least until a track record is established) and, perhaps, you might see an increase in pilotage costs to oversee operations in congested waters.

Remember that Stephenson's Rocket, with a maximum speed of 28 mph, was restricted to an operational speed of 4 mph..... the speed of the man with the flag walking in front of it.


Edit for related thought.  ---- in a world full of automated ships there might be a greater need for an At-Sea service community - kind of like an Automobile Association of the high seas.  There might also be a greater need for a high seas security force - more hulls spaced more closely to provide surveillance and response for the unmanned vessels.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Colin P said:
What humans bring to the damage control side is a very adept sensor package, with the ability to assess that information and to act upon it. An autonomous vessel will be completely dependent on it’s sensor net to provide a response to damage and then on the controls being able to function to carry out the actions to respond. I suspect the “tipping point” will come sooner than later than with a manned crew. The day may come when mobile robots can conduct the damage control using both their own and the ships sensors to deduce the correct actions to be taken. However for the first few generations, I suspect the damage control systems will be minimal just to keep the costs down and won’t be the major focus until a few are lost.

The smart valves in the Zumwalt are obscenely expensive, 5 digit expensive.  But what they are capable of beats meat shield capabilities in my opinion as they can sense and reroute before we even know there's a problem.  But that is about it for now, the AI can't think outside the box like we can, just yet and in that respect we probably win in fighting the tipping point better.
 

Kirkhill

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Smart Valves?  You mean like these?  Which are used to supply you with your beer and milk and have been for at least the last 15 years?  So that you only need one or two shift operators?

GEA-Tuchenhagen-mixproof-shut-off-valve_tcm11-11858.jpg


 
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jollyjacktar

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Can't say for sure.  These smart valves talk to each other, know instantly if there is a firemain break or leak and will close and open as needed to isolate damage and bring the firemain back into service.  All without human interference or assistance.  They're tens of thousands of dollars each.
 

Navy_Pete

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jollyjacktar said:
Can't say for sure.  These smart valves talk to each other, know instantly if there is a firemain break or leak and will close and open as needed to isolate damage and bring the firemain back into service.  All without human interference or assistance.  They're tens of thousands of dollars each.

Our current valves in naval bronze can easily cost that much, with the bigger valves going into the six figures.  The actuator is generally the cheapest part by quite a bit, and the controls and sensors for these are relatively simple.  It's one of the cases where the industry is way ahead of us, and the oil and gas shock and vibration standards can be comparable or exceed the mil standards.
 
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jollyjacktar

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I'm am an LCMM, you don't need to tell me.  It's disgusting how expensive things are.  I believe the smart valves were starting at $40K+ USD each.  In a seawater services system that sort of price makes it eye wateringly expensive to fit out a ship.  They would love to do more of their ships but just cannot afford to do so.  We're not even in the sniff range of being able to.
 

Colin Parkinson

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In the marine environment, everything gets attacked at the mechanical, biological, chemical and electrical level. You really have to stay on top of that corrosion. 
 

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The US Navy

The Navy Just Ordered the 'Orca,' an Extra-Large Unmanned Submarine by Boeing
The Orca unmanned autonomous submersible will be capable of crossing entire oceans and fulfilling a variety of missions, from hunting mines to sinking submarines.

screen-shot-2019-02-14-at-10-57-45-am-1550170849.png




By Kyle Mizokami
Feb 14, 2019

The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract to Boeing for four Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (XLUUVs). In other words: giant drone subs.

The unmanned submarines, called Orcas, will be able to undertake missions from scouting to sinking ships at very long ranges. Drone ships like the Orca will revolutionize war at sea, providing inexpensive, semi-disposable weapon systems that can fill the gaps in the front line—or simply go where it’s too dangerous for manned ships to go.

The contract, announced today, stipulates Boeing will get $43 million for “fabrication, test, and delivery of four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) and associated support elements.” That’s just over ten million bucks per boat.

What does the Navy get? A lot.

The Orca is based on the Echo Voyager technology demonstration sub. That boat is an unmanned diesel electric submarine launched and recovered from a pier. It has a range of 6,500 nautical miles and can run completely alone for months at a time. It measures 51 by 8.5 by 8.5 feet and has a weight “in the air” of 50 tons.

The sub features an inertial navigation system, depth sensors, and can surface to get a fix on its position via GPS. It uses satellite communications to “phone home” and report information or receive new orders. Echo Voyager can dive to a maximum depth of 11,000 feet and has a top speed of eight knots.

One crucial piece of Echo Voyager is the modular payload system that allows it to take on different payloads to support different missions. The unmanned sub has an internal cargo volume of 2,000 cubic feet with a maximum length of 34 feet and a capacity of eight tons. It can also support external payloads hanging off the hull.


How much Orca will improve upon the tech already inside Echo Voyager is unknown. U.S. Naval Institute News says the Orca will be capable of, “mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare and strike missions.” Orca could carry sonar payloads, sniffing out enemy submarines and then sending location data to friendly helicopters and surface ships.

Orca could even pack a Mk. 46 lightweight torpedo to take a shot at an enemy sub itself. It could also carry heavier Mk. 48 heavyweight torpedoes to attack surface ships, or even conceivably anti-ship missiles. Orca could drop off cargos on the seabed, detect, or even lay mines. The modular hardware payload system and open architecture software ensures Orca could be rapidly configured based on need.

This sort of versatility in a single, low-cost package is fairly unheard of in military spending. The nearest rough equivalent is the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, which costs $584 million each and has a crew of 40. While LCS is faster, has the benefit of an onboard crew, and carries a larger payload, Orca is autonomous—and cheaper by orders of magnitude. For missions such as anti-submarine warfare, dozens of cheaper Orcas could saturate an area better than a single surface ship or perhaps even a manned submarine. A single shore-based crew could control several Orcas, allowing the autonomous subs to operate independently for days or even weeks at a time before issuing fresh orders.

Another benefit of unmanned submersibles: They're more or less disposable and can operate in dangerous waters without risking human lives. Orca could pretend to be a full-size submarine, waiting for enemy submarines to take a shot while a real Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine sits back, waiting to ambush. Orca could take on dangerous missions such as laying mines in heavy defended waters, leaving behind a deadly surprise for enemies that think minelaying in their waters is simply too dangerous for a manned submarine.

Orca may or may not be a system that becomes a full-fledged member of the fleet, although the Navy’s purchase of four of the drones indicates it does plan on using them for real-world missions. The Navy is probably purchasing enough to continue testing while having a few on hand for actual use.

Inexpensive systems like Orca could go a long way towards one of the most understated promises of unmanned air, land, and sea drones: reversing the out of control costs of today’s weapon systems. While the cost of manned ships may not be coming down any time soon, inexpensive unmanned ships could bring overall costs down while adding capability to the fleet.

If you want to watch the future of naval warfare unfold, keep an eye on the Orca.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a26344025/navy-extra-large-unmanned-submarines-boeing/

And on the other side of the Atlantic

Royal Navy wants armed drone ships

THE Royal Navy could have missile carrying robot drone ships within the decade, defence sources say.

By MARCO GIANNANGELI
PUBLISHED: 16:19, Sun, Feb 17, 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27, Sun, Feb 17, 2019

UK-news-1088518.jpg


The ATLAS minesweeping system has already entered service (Image: NC)

The craft would accompany flagship aircraft carriers, freeing up the rest of the fleet to patrol elsewhere. A senior serving admiral said last night: "We are on the cusp of a revolution. We are talking about platforms that will work alongside our existing frigates and destroyers. "We are developing vessels which can be both manned and unmanned; unmanned when escorting taskforces - with the ability to overcome anti-air and ship capabilities - and manned when deployed on more manpower intensive tasks. "History tells us that escorts are there to protect our highest-value units and are therefore at greatest risk. It makes sense to have unmanned platforms for that purpose." Once deployed, drone ships will probably be carried on board destroyers or towed until a taskforce reaches the danger area, where they will be released to operate on the outside edges of the flotilla. The US Navy is already planning to equip small unmanned vessels with missiles and 30mm (1.2in) cannon to protect against the threat of enemy swarm boats.

However, using such vessels would probably increase the risk of force being used, added the admiral. "If you take the man out of the battle-space it clearly becomes a much less high-risk activity, in terms of casualties. There is, therefore, a higher possibility that any enemy will use force against such vessels."

The naval drone initiative follows last week's announcement by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson that the Army will begin using "swarm squadrons" of flying drones to help overcome enemy defences.

According to the MoD's Future Operating Environment 2035 paper, automated systems would result in fewer casualties which "may lower political risk and any public reticence for a military response.

"Automated systems offer almost unlimited potential yet using them is likely to be more constrained by legal and ethical concerns than by the technology itself." While unmanned aerial vehicles have already come a long way, unmanned ships are lagging behind, hampered by the need to ensure safety in crowded waters. But non-weaponised systems, such as mine-hunters and submarine detectors are already entering service.

The ATLAS system, made by Dorset-based Atlas Elektronik, uses "sense and avoid" technology as it tows three or more craft which emit electronic signals to detonate mines.

Unmanned submarine detectors are also near to being deployed in "pinch points", where Russian submarine activity is a problem.

Portsmouth-based L3-ASV is already producing autonomous vessels for the Navy.

Senior director Dan Hook said: "When it comes to mine-hunting, the rate which an autonomous vessel can cover an area far exceeds a conventional vessel. And when we say it operates 24/7, we mean it." Last night, former Sea Lord Admiral Lord West confirmed: "The Navy has been taking these developments very seriously.

"This technology is excellent as long as you're fighting people, but it has limitations in other types of policing missions…which really do require conventional vessels carrying crews."

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1088518/royal-navy-armed-drone-ships-atlas-minesweeping-uk-news

Judging from the CSC imagery it seems to me that a CSC could transport, support and deploy 5 of those Atlas minesweepers (with or without offensive payloads) and/or something similar to the Orcas described above (depending on the weight capability of the crane assembly in the Mission Bay.

Canadas_Combat_Ship_Team_unveils_comprehensive_CSC_solution_1.jpeg


https://www.lockheedmartin.ca/ca/news/2016/canada_s-combat-ship-team--bae-systems--cae--lockheed-martin-can.html
 

Kirkhill

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In 2019 Rolls Royce sold its Commercial Marine division to Norway's Kongsberg to advance Autonomous Ships


Kongsberg presents an interesting portfolio of unmanned and autonomous projects.


And it appears to be easily scalable and is additive - tapping into existing sensors and controls.



I can't see "unmanned" vessels but I can see autonomous vessels with only one person on the bridge - perhaps a crew of 4 or 5 for 24/7 operation.

Or one person on shore controlling something like a Vancouver Seabus local ferry system.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Commercially i can see small ferries being the first to go unmanned. For naval vessels I can see mine hunting and small vessels supporting a manned mothership for littoral and ASW work. My guess is the wiz kids are all used to working on nice newish vessels for their AI. I really believe it when it's still working 10 years later on the same ship. Plus the marine industry will try to take away all the entry level positions and then wonder why there are no new applicants for ship masters and ship Pilots 15 years later. It takes about that long to get a larger vessel competent master.
 

Kirkhill

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Commercially i can see small ferries being the first to go unmanned. For naval vessels I can see mine hunting and small vessels supporting a manned mothership for littoral and ASW work. My guess is the wiz kids are all used to working on nice newish vessels for their AI. I really believe it when it's still working 10 years later on the same ship. Plus the marine industry will try to take away all the entry level positions and then wonder why there are no new applicants for ship masters and ship Pilots 15 years later. It takes about that long to get a larger vessel competent master.
But will it? If the same controls and instructions (orders) are common regardless if you are driving a 12m RHIB or a T1 tanker.

On the other hand I fully agree that maintenance is going to be a big thing. Most of my plants I find the plant works fine the day I leave the premises. Operator error accounts for the phone calls over the next month or so. And then the equipment failures start to ramp up over the next year.

The more automation the fewer operators you need but the more maintainers. And the more the requirement to regularly replace and upgrade rather than repair.
 

Navy_Pete

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Can't say for sure. These smart valves talk to each other, know instantly if there is a firemain break or leak and will close and open as needed to isolate damage and bring the firemain back into service. All without human interference or assistance. They're tens of thousands of dollars each.
Normal firemain valves are 10s of thousands of dollars each for ref, and the larger seawater valves are in the hundreds of thousands. Large castings are expensive.

From my personal experience automating to reduce personnel levels only works if you maintain it and make sure it's working. Based on the current state of the Halifax class and the basic remote functions built in, not really confident we'd pay that butchers bill. But we'd complain that we didn't have enough operators (because we are doing things manually).

I'm all for trusting sensors, but not when I know that there are things getting marked as tested which aren't. (Sure, we verified correct operation of the relief valve... Why is it replaced by a damage control plug? Uh.... reasons? That totally happened after we checked it, pay no attention to the salt buildup). We don't investigate falsified maintenance records, let alone hold people accountable, so our culture doesn't really make this feasibly safe.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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But will it? If the same controls and instructions (orders) are common regardless if you are driving a 12m RHIB or a T1 tanker.

But not quite with the same result. Just stopping the propeller cold on a 12m Rhib running at 28 Kts will stop it in about 20 meters. Your T1 tanker running at 16 Kts will take anywhere from 3.5 to 5 NM to come to a stop. it's called momentum and that is where all the experience of a master or pilot comes into play: judging momentum, wind, waves and currents effect on a vessel - and knowing things like judging where you need to act in view of advance, transfer and distances to new courses. I am sure that autonomous systems can deal with those through instantaneous recognition of being "off-the-programmed-course" from things like GPS or local high precision sensors and from algorithms, but to teach remote drivers how to judge those factors takes years and years.

And BTW, if you go full autonomous, who is going to switch the engines on your container ship from light diesel to bunker and back to cover the long same speed leg in the middle of the voyage? And if you have maintainers or engineers onboard, would they trust that there is no one on the bridge?

I am not against technology, I am just saying there are many impondreables to consider here. Things like, what do you do if the steering gear decides to fail in the Suez canal? Or if the main engines crash stop in mid-Pacific?

BTW, Kirkhill, re: the Iron view helmet: I can't find it now, but a few years ago, I saw similar technology being developed for container ships. Basically, at the flip of a switch, it projected an image on the bridge windows that made it possible for the bridge personnel to seem to look through the containers and hull so they could see everything near the ship at their front. When you consider that the sight lines on a loaded container ship prevents the bridge team from seeing the first couple of nautical miles in front of them, that would be a great tool. Can't find any reference to it anymore though, and don't know how ar they got with the tech.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Ship companies are tiered, automation would work on a Japanese owned ship, because things are well kept and well maintained. further down the tiers, not so much. The other problem with keeping it maintained is that work would have to be done in port and that means more downtime. It would almost be better not to have a optionally manned vessel as that would remove requirements for life saving equipment that must be maintained, along with sleeping quarters, galley and sanitation systems. Of course that would then preclude it from entering ports requiring it to be manned.
 

Kirkhill

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I agree with both the large number of "imponderables - unknown unknowns" and the need for regular maintenance (including regular calibration of sensors and actuators).

I'm not sure about the need for taking vessels off line for maintenance. Maintenance crews could be dropped aboard as necessary. Suppliers are doing that with manned vessels now.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I like the idea of allround cameras to assist the Master/pilot. I can also see automation assisting bridge and engine room crews more and more. I can see AI helping a Master keep an active plot of a course through a busy area, with the AI taking all the data and laying out the best course with the master making the final call and able to intercede as required.
 
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