(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A christening ceremony for a new Navy submarine at a dock in Portland, Oregon Thursday was like many others throughout history: there was champagne to smash on the hull, military pomp and fanfare — but there was one key difference: the U.S.S. Sea Hunter is fully robotic.
"You are all witnessing history. How often can you be at the christening of a robot warship?" asked Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who was on hand to talk up the 142-foot-long, totally autonomous sub.
Like the self-driving cars pioneered by Google and other companies, the ship will use myriad sensors and cameras to silently patrol the briny deep — without the need to endanger American sailors.
KATU-TV reports the first-of-its-kind ship was built by American defense company Leicos, and Secretary Work expects it to join the rest of the U.S. fleet within the next five years, working alongside manned and unmanned counterparts.
Such autonomous vessels are at the tip of the spear of the Navy's newly created Office of Unmanned Warfare Systems.
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