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337-foot U.S. Navy vessel USNS Apalachicola Can Sail Unmanned At Sea For 30 Days.
By Sea and Coast | 27/02/2023
The US Navy has announced that they now have a ship that can sail autonomously at sea for 30 days without a crew. 
The prototype ship in question is the USNS Apalachicola, which is 337 feet long and is the largest self-propelled ship of the US Navy. This comes as the Navy tries to build an army of drone ships and aircraft that can anticipate a new wave of combat within the next few decades. The speed of the ship can reach up to 40 knots, and its low-hulled design allows it to venture into places that other ships cannot reach. Apalachicola has a draft of 12.5 feet and a net tonnage of 544 tons.
It can act as a drone mother ship and an unmanned missile ship. It has the ability to launch anti-submarine weapons. It can be equipped with a sensor element and echo sounder. On this autonomous vessel, crew members can also be present.
Austal, the manufacturer of the Apalachicola, mentioned that the vessel will have a machinery control system, MCS, and automated in-house design. This allows it to centralize machine operations on the bridge with little or no crew. It can recover rigid inflatable boats and support V-22 Osprey air operations. 
To date, the US Navy has successfully produced unmanned squadron ship prototypes. They received their first prototype ship in 2022 from Ghost Fleet Overlord, a former US drone boat evaluation program. The US hopes to enter the drone ship game, with this ship. 
Many private companies are also helping the Navy test autonomous sailboats, many of which would be used for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.