Maritime Arresting Technologies non-kinetic effectors can now be deployed using fully automated launchers and net deployment systems specifically designed for equipping autonomous surface vessels ( ASVs ).
The systems contain their own microprocessors and can be controlled remotely.
Arming Autonomous Port Security Vessels
The return to Great Power Competition from the War on Terror has highlighted the vulnerability of Naval forces when moored or at anchor, whether at home or away, from sophisticated stealthy weapons.
Many previous Great Power conflicts have begun with attacks on home ports and anchorages such as the obvious example of Pearl harbor. It is vital to avoid this happening again as the loss of capital ships early on in a conflict is extremely difficult to absorb.
Both of the United States main Great Power competitors have nuclear submarines and covert vessels capable of deploying self-propelled mines (armed UUVs) and other threats close to US ports and anchorages.
If one assumes that there are never enough port security vessels to provide total protection the need for force multipliers is obvious. The potential use of unmanned assets is currently fashionable, but the reality is if a man is in the loop there are no real savings in manpower; the unmanned assets need to be autonomous to be true force multipliers.
The force multiplying role of the unmanned assets should be to delay or stop threats to buy time for manned units to arrive on the scene.
Arming unmanned vessels with kinetic effectors is fraught with danger. The use of lethal force requires extremely high levels of faith in target identification and the misuse against unconfirmed threats can rapidly lead to an escalation of tension, a breakdown of international relations and unacceptable collateral damage, both moral and political.
The obvious alternative to lethal weapons is arming port security autonomous vessels with non-kinetic effectors. Properly used these carry a such a low risk of collateral damage that they could be allowed to be deployed autonomously; the worst case being an innocent intruder into a security zone is detained but unharmed.
Non-kinetic effectors can be deployed from small, fast, maneuverable ASVs and can defeat or at least delay threats until manned units arrive.
There appears to be two roles ASVs can perform in this environment, one is a Sentry, equipped with sensors and effectors, stationed forward of the asset to provide a larger security zone and means to protect it, the other is a short range, high speed Interceptor, launched just in time to engage threats once detected and identified.
Non-kinetic effectors have been developed in collaboration with US Navy warfare centers to engage both surface and sub-surface threats. This capability may not be too far away.