The Navy established a new surface squadron on May 23 focusing on experimentation with new surface warfare capabilities, unmanned vessels, and new warfighting concepts.
Vice Adm. Richard Brown, Commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), said this week the Navy started by redesignating Zumwalt Squadron One (ZRON ONE) as Surface Development Squadron One (SURFDEVRON ONE).
ZRON ONE was previously set up as the organization to man, train, and equip Zumwalt-class destroyers (DDG-1000 through 1002).
Brown announced this change during a ceremony in San Diego on May 22.
He noted commanders of U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet have approved the SURFDEVRON ONE plan while the Chief of Naval Operations endorsed it earlier this year.
“By standing up a command dedicated to developing warfighting capabilities and experimentation, we will ensure the U.S. Surface Navy remains the premiere Surface Navy in the world,” Brown said at the event.
The Navy plans for SURFDEVRON ONE to integrate medium and large unmanned surface vessels (MUSVs and LUSVs) and support fleet experimentation “to accelerate delivery of new warfighting concepts and capabilities to the fleet,” the office of CNSP said in a statement.
MUSVs and LUSVs are planned to start delivering to the fleet in FY 2024.
Earlier this month at the Sea Air Space expo, Rear Adm. Casey Moton, program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants, said the Navy planned to stand up a service development squadron that would include the USVs in San Diego (Defense Daily, May 8).
Moton said, “To the extent that we need to determine how it’s going to operate, we need to do that and we’re getting the prototypes out there soon so that we can do that experimentation.”
The Navy’s FY ’20 budget request planned to invest over $1 billion in unmanned systems, including the LUSVs and MUSVs. It included $447 million in research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds for two LUSVs and planned to buy two per year through the Future Years Defense Program.
In March, the Navy issued an RFI for the LUSV program (Defense Daily, March 14).
According to Brown, the primary functions of SURFDEVRON will be to coordinate doctrine, organization, training, material, logistics, personnel and facilities requirements for unmanned systems; execute experimentation to support development of new and emerging warfighting capabilities; and develop material and technical solutions to tactical challenges.
During the establishment ceremony Capt. Henry Adams became the new leader and Commodore of the squadron, relieving commander of ZRON, Capt. Scott Carroll. Adams previously led CNSP’s Commander’s Action Group (CAG) and served as Commander for Squadron Destroyer One (CDS 21).
The Navy said SURFDEVRON ONE is responsible for the maintenance, training and manning oversight for not only Zumwalt-class ships but also medium and large Unmanned Surface Vessels like Sea Hunter Medium Displacement Unmannned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) and the Sea Hunter II platform when it finishes construction in the end of FY 2020.
The Navy said SURFDEVRON will be executed over several phases in the new several years before it reaches full capacity and capability
SURFDEVRON will start with the sole active ship in the squadron, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).
The USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) was delivered to the Navy and commissioned earlier this year, but has not finished combat systems activation as part of its two-phase delivery. The final ship, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), is still under construction by shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works [GD] in Maine.
The Navy said SURFDEVRON ONE headquarters will be at Naval Base San Diego but will operate throughout various areas of operation.