"DHS S&T [Science and Technology] teamed up with the Coast Guard, University of Southern Mississippi (USM), the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at Penn State, Ocean Aero, Inc., Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs (CNSP), and the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute (HSSEDI), to develop, acquire, evaluate, and test specialized, environmentally powered (wind and solar), multi-mission capable, unmanned surface and underwater vessels," the release said on Wednesday.
The evaluation team initiated acceptance testing of six unmanned vessels at USM’s Marine Research Center (MRC) at the port of Gulfport, Mississippi. They will use MRC's specialized lab facilities and waterfront access to evaluate vessel capabilities in multiple areas, including navigation, surface maneuverability, diving and subsurface operations, according to the release.
The vessels are capable of operating effectively for long periods using only wind and solar power and are a platform for cameras and advanced sensors to detect anomalies and threats, the release added.
The effort is reportedly in support of the US Coast Guard’s mission of protecting the more than 95,000 miles of maritime border shoreline and 15,000 miles of waterways, seaports, and other commercially navigable waters, according to the release.