The U.S. Navy successfully conducted the first at-sea unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) delivery to a Ohio-class, ballistic-missile submarine on October 19, 2020, in cooperation with the University of Hawaiʻi Applied Research Laboratory (ARL). This re-supply was one of four U.S. Strategic Command expeditionary logistics events in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands with USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730).
The UH ARL worked hand-in-hand with Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Navy Sailors, Department of Navy civilians and U.S. Air Force airmen to develop best practices and training protocols. UH ARL developed and conducted training exercises with personnel to ensure the sailors-turned-UAV pilots were ready for the re-supply event.
“This effort is emblematic of how collaboration between Navy stakeholders and UH scientists and engineers can rapidly evolve the capabilities of small unmanned systems,” said Margo Edwards, UH ARL director. “ARL at the University of Hawaiʻi is proud to be a part of this effort and cherishes our relationship with the submarine community.”
The project is the latest collaboration between UH ARL and Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Hawaiʻi Applied Research Lab team on the first at-sea UAV delivery to a ballistic-missile submarine,” said Rear Adm. Blake Converse, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Our sailors, civilians and airmen learned a great deal in this academic and operational environment. They are all making a difference, demonstrating our ability to meet U.S. Strategic Command’s expeditionary logistics requirements—anytime, anywhere.”
ARL was established in 2008 as a Navy-sponsored lab and is one of 13 university-affiliated research centers within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In 2019, UH and ARL were awarded a $77.2 million, five-year contract from the DoD to conduct research, development, engineering, and test and evaluation of programs.