According to the Telegraph, the Royal Navy is already using “unmanned underwater vehicles” (UUVs) to help stop Iran from laying mines in shipping lanes.
The UUVs are also being considered for deployment in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.
The ministry’s defence, science and technology laboratory has explained to manufacturers how the ministry wants them to help develop technologies “to provide greater support to maritime operations such as mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and missile defence”.
“Unmanned systems are being considered as a potential option to aid in the delivery of a range of different maritime tasks given the range of potential threats and increasing demands on the smaller number of highly capable manned platforms in which much of the UK capability is currently focused,” it said.
The tasks are anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, anti-ship missile defence, counter-piracy operations and support to future submarine operations. It also makes clear they could be used to attack potential enemies.
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Giles says in the report that sea drones are wanted for “dirty, dangerous and repetitive” tasks, and to keep costs down, according to the Guardian.