The Navy in January agreed to support the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center (RDC) in the storage and maintenance of optionally manned and unmanned service vessels (USVs), giving the center access to greater capabilities than it has in-house.

The memorandum of understanding allows the New London, Conn.-based RDC to temporarily store its three USVs at the Naval Submarine Base, which is also in New London. The Coast Guard is evaluating the USVs for various applications, including autonomous operations and monitoring of potentially illicit activities such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“This is a great opportunity for our commands to work together to share knowledge, resources and talent to further understanding of autonomous vessel operations, support and logistics,” Capt. Daniel Keane, commanding officer of the RDC, said in a statement.

Lt. Dean Gilbert, the RDC’s lead for vessel maintenance with the Navy, said in a statement that “The RDC does not have the organic capabilities to fully manage the maintenance and repair aspect of this boat program. “Partnering with the Navy fills critical gaps in the program, helps in the training of reserve sailor technicians and ensures work is being done in facilities compliant with all Coast Guard, Navy and state requirements.”

The RDC’s three USVs include two station-style boats, one a 29-foot vessel and the other 25-foot-with outboard engines for close-to-shore operations, and a 26-foot boat that has a water jet for propulsion and is for open water operations working with a Coast Guard cutter.

The Navy, through its Task Force 59 that stood up in September 2021, has done extensive evaluations of, and exercises with, USVs in the Persian Gulf.