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US Navy Establishes Unmanned Surface Vessel Squadron Three at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.

Coronado, CA, United States – May 19, 2024: The U.S. Navy marked a significant milestone with the establishment of Unmanned Surface Vessel Squadron (USVRON) Three at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado during a ceremony on May 17. Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) announced that USVRON Three will oversee a fleet of small, unmanned surface vessels (sUSV) known as Global Autonomous Reconnaissance Craft (GARC).
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 Global Autonomous Reconnaissance Craft (GARC) from Unmanned Surface Vessel Squadron 3 (USVRON 3) operate remotely in San Diego Bay ahead of the unit's establishment ceremony.  (Picture source U.S. DoD)

During the ceremony, Capt. Derek Rader assumed command of the newly established USVRON Three. “Our Sailors are the essential key for integration of unmanned surface vessels in the Navy and joint construct,” said Rader. “This will be accomplished through experimentation with the fleet testing and doctrine drafted by operators you see today, who embody and execute the warfighting that we need to achieve to enable the full potential of unmanned systems.”

USVs, including the GARCs, aim to enhance the Navy’s traditional combatant force with additional warfighting capabilities and capacities. These vessels will provide commanders with a wider range of tactical and strategic options, whether operating with carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or independently. The GARCs, manufactured by the Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, are 16-foot USVs designed to facilitate research, testing, and operations across surface, expeditionary, and joint maritime forces.

Vice Adm. Brendan McLane, Commander of Naval Surface Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivered the keynote speech at the ceremony. “With challenging obstacles to overcome, we have put the right team in place at USVRON Three, and I believe we have done just that,” McLane said. “The Navy is placing unmanned systems in the hands of 400 of our most talented warfighters to help integrate, scale, experiment, and employ these systems.”

USVRON Three will incorporate the Navy's newest rating, the robotics warfare (RW) specialist, into their teams. Announced in February by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), this new rating will support Robotic Autonomous System (RAS) operations and maintenance at the tactical edge. RW specialists will be the subject matter experts in computer vision, mission autonomy, navigation autonomy, data systems, artificial intelligence, and machine learning on RAS platforms.

USVRON Three will report to Surface Development Group (SURFDEVGRU) One, led by Commodore Shea Thompson. “There are currently no boundaries, and we have an incredible opportunity to determine what right looks like within our sphere of influence,” said Thompson. “The SURFDEVGRU One and USVRON Three teams are manned by like-minded surface warriors who are making considerable strides in validating small USV capability while laying out a clear path to achieving full operational capability by a timeframe that matters.”

The mission of USVRON Three is to deliver formidable, unmanned platforms in the maritime domain. The squadron will build foundational knowledge required to operate and maintain sUSV and will spearhead the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) for sUSV operations and sustainment. USVRON Three’s motto is “Victory Through Ferocity.”

SURFDEVGRU One is responsible for the maintenance, training, and manning oversight for unmanned surface vessels (USV), Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers, and the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002).

CNSP's mission is to man, train, and equip the Surface Force to provide fleet commanders with credible naval power to control the sea and project power ashore.

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