OKINAWA, Japan – U.S. Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force participated in Building Momentum’s Innovation Boot Camp to learn how to build unmanned service vessels for the first time at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, from November 27 to December 8, 2023.
IBC is a program designed to develop and test unique problem-solving skills that Marines may need in field environments. So far, IBC has provided hands-on training to over 6,500 Marines that includes 3D printing, computer-aided design, soldering, circuit design, and other useful skill sets that allow them to think critically.
Recently, the Marine Corps has expressed interest in evolved surveillance capabilities. Such capabilities include small drone boats that can provide information, imagery, and even communication abilities.
“Each IBC is assigned a specific request, and this time III MEF specifically requested unmanned service vessels,” Akshta Suresh, Manager of Training for Building Momentum mentioned. “The students built service vessels that possessed several important traits. They had to create a vessel that could actually float, was water resistant, had a working GPS, and camera attachments.”
The students built remote-controlled vessels that could be controlled from the shore via Bluetooth. From there, a Marine can send the vessel into the ocean with a specific set of coordinates and drop a sensor buoy. The buoy possesses the ability to report surface temperatures, humidity levels, movement sensory, and possessed three separate camera attachments. The sensors were able to operate in both day and night with clear visibility.
The vessels also possessed a retrieving autonomous GPS capability. This means that in the event the vessel can no longer communicate with the remote-controller, the vessel already has a pre-set coordinate that it will return to. This ensures that even if the vessel disconnects, it will still return to a specific location even without being connected to the controller.
The capabilities of this system allow Marines at III MEF to operate more effectively in a littoral operating environment and during simulated expeditionary advanced base operations. They have the potential to be used in various missions; enhancing III MEF’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities against all near-peer adversaries.
The students that participated in this project were from all different backgrounds and possessed various military occupational specialties. Suresh spoke about the level of experience needed from those interested in IBC.
“It doesn’t matter if you know anything about technology,” she mentioned. “You can come into IBC with no experience with computers and complete an entire project from the ground up. I have seen students who do not know how to use a laptop come to IBC and complete the course knowing how to code an entire system.”
IBC is one of many programs that III MEF participates in to advance their capabilities and operations as a Stand-in-Force. With III MEF located in a vibrant and dynamic region, the Marines of III MEF continue to transform and modernize, remaining ready, capable, and postured throughout the Indo-Pacific Region.
Retired Gen. David H. Berger, the 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, previously spoke about why these systems will be important in future theaters.
“In the future, unmanned air, ground, sea and undersea vehicles teamed with manned vehicles will be increasingly important for such things as intelligence gathering, weapons platforms, delivery of supplies and even medevac missions.” he said.
|CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, JP