Rendering of an autonomous replenishment platform. (Photo: Sea Machines.)The Department of Defense (DoD) contract aims to produce autonomous full-scale ocean-going vertical take-off landing replenishment platforms

By The Shephard News Team in London


The US DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has awarded Sea Machines a $3million contract to develop an autonomous full-scale ocean-going replenishment platform. 

The contract builds on earlier work by Sea Machines at the behest of the DoD to engineer, build and demonstrate system kits capable of transforming commercial barges into platforms that can land and replenish military aircraft. 

That work is now transitioning from proof of concept to a design and trial stage.

Sea Machines founder and CEO Michael Johnson said: ‘The extension of our contract represents the intersection of traditional sectors, such as government, and the capabilities of autonomous technology.’

The prototype kit will include the company’s SM300 autonomous command and control system.

The end goal of this project is the successful deployment of the autonomous control kit on multiple barges, increasing the DoD’s ‘agility’ in deploying and replenishing assets globally.

Johnson added: ‘This program is a perfect example of autonomous technology opening up new operational capabilities and leveraging new technology for operational advantages.’

Sea Machines is working with FOSS Maritime for the project, with the latter responsible for developing the naval architecture. 

FOSS Maritime is also providing operations management for the outfitting of a remotely commanded deck barge able to land helicopters and house a ‘scaled fuelling station’ for aircraft, surface vessels and shore replenishment.