DARPA steaming ahead with ‘Sea Train’ concept

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Gibbs & Cox a multi-phase contract to develop and demonstrate a ‘Connectorless Sea Train concept’.

The concept will involve naval vessels using autonomous technology and ‘hydrodynamic optimisation’ so they can travel in close convoys, thereby achieving greater fuel efficiency and range in long-distance transits. There are similarities to the ‘platooning’ concept now being developed by trucking companies.

Gibbs & Cox has developed a technical approach which it dubs ARMADA (Articulated Resistance Minimized Autonomous Deployment Asset). According to Gibbs & Cox, ARMADA ‘seeks to reshape maritime vessel capabilities, enabling long-range deployments of medium-sized autonomous surface vessels without the need for either in-port or at-sea refuelling’.

As previously reported by, the term Armada is also being used by the subsea technology and data company Ocean Infinity for its plans for a fleet of autonomous vessels that will be used to carry out  surveys on pipeline routes and acquire seismic data.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor