Meet the Navy’s newest sea drone squadron

by Vern Evans

The Navy’s surface community welcomed its newest surface drone squadron to the fleet last week during a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego.

Unmanned Surface Vessel Squadron 3, or “USVRON Three” in Navy-speak, will oversee an array of small surface drones known as “global autonomous reconnaissance craft,” the sea service said.

Capt. Derek Rader is the first commanding officer of the newly formed squadron, which will seek to further integrate drone systems into the Navy’s manned fleet.

“Our Sailors are the essential key for integration of unmanned surface vessels in the Navy and joint construct,” Rader said during the ceremony, according to a Navy release. “This will be accomplished through experimentation with the fleet testing and doctrine drafted by operators you see today, who embody and execute the warfighting that we need to achieve to enable the full potential of unmanned systems.”

The squadron will also fold in the Navy’s newest rating for robotics warfare that was announced earlier this year.

Those sailors will be in charge of operating and maintaining the 16-foot sea drones.

“There are currently no boundaries, and we have an incredible opportunity to determine what right looks like within our sphere of influence,” Commodore Shea Thompson, commander of Surface Development Group 1, the squadron’s immediate superior command, said.

The head of Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. Brendan McLane, said at last week’s ceremony that the squadron is the right unit to address the “challenging obstacles” of integrating sea drones.

“The Navy is placing unmanned systems in the hands of 400 of our most talented warfighters to help integrate, scale, experiment, and employ these systems,” he said, according to a Navy release.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at [email protected].

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