DARPA is making progress on a program it calls No Manning Required Ship, making a second award to Serco Inc. to continue developing a design for the ship.
While the Federal Procurement Data System pegs the value of the contract at $7.7 million for Phase 1A and the recently awarded Phase 1B portion of the contract, this is precisely the kind of design work Serco wanted to pursue when it acquired Alion’s naval architecture business in 2019.
Other companies also are in the mix include Autonomous Surface Vehicles LLC, a division of L3Harris; Gibbs & Cox, a naval architecture firm acquired by Leidos; Barnstorm Research Corp.; and TDI Technologies.
Known as NOMARS X-Ship, the DARPA program is exploring novel surface vessel designs using what Serco called a “clean sheet refresh.” The NOMARS vessel will have no onboard sailors and will need to operate for long periods of time.
One goal is to lower the Navy’s cost per mission hour with a reduced platform size and the ability to extend the reach of larger, manned vessels.