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Naval Group reveals ocean-capable USV testbed


22 September 2022

by Richard Scott

Originally built to support DGA’s ESPADON MCM technology demonstration programme,
Sterenn Du
is now being converted to serve as a testbed for maritime autonomy.
(Richard Scott/NAVYPIX (left) + Naval Group (right))

France’s Naval Group is modifying and repurposing an existing optionally manned trials vessel to serve as an experimental testbed for large uncrewed platform and autonomous systems, the company has revealed.

Under a loan arrangement with France’s Direction générale de l’armement (DGA), the trials craft Sterenn Du is being converted to support science and technology applicable to next-generation uncrewed surface vessels (USVs). Naval Group is self-funding the conversion, which began in Brest earlier this year.

Sterenn Du is a 17 m aluminium catamaran originally delivered in 2011 to support technology demonstrations associated with the DGA’s ESPADON (Ėvaluation incrèmentale de Solutions Potentielles d’Automatìsatìon de Deminage pour les Opérations Navales) stand-off mine countermeasures (MCM) technology demonstration programme. ESPADON, which ran until May 2016, was a national effort designed to de-risk overarching concepts and crucial technologies applicable to the French Navy’s projected Système de lutte anti-mines – futur (SLAM-F) future MCM capability.

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