2013 Unmanned Maritime Systems Essay Contest & Forum



1st Place
"Unman Your Battle Stations!" by Commander Michael J. Dobbs, U.S. Navy (Retired)
"A Few Disruptive Thoughts" by Lieutenant Ryan Hilger, U.S. Navy

3rd Place
"The Future of Unmanned Operations is Unmanned Analysis" by Ensigns Shane Halton and Chris O’Keefe, U.S. Navy

Honorable Mentions

The Challenge

How will our maritime culture be affected when machines perform more of the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act-Access cycle?

The next decade will witness a revolution in maritime operations, perhaps rivaling the transition from sail to steam.  Unmanned systems under the sea, and above the sea - acting progressively more autonomously but in close concert with their human masters - will surely change some very fundamental aspects of the scince of naval warfare.  But will these systems also change the art? How will our maritime culture be affected when machines perform more and more of the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act-Assess cycle?  What things (if any) should we never let machines do?  What sort of people will we need to recruit and train for this sort of future?  Ten years hence, what are the things we will look back on, and wish we had done today to advance the adoption and utilization of unmanned systems?  Essays should address the necessary changes in the Naval profession as a result of the incorporation of unmanned systems technology into the maritime battle space.

To encourage free and open exchange of ideas and a vigorous discussion on unmanned maritime systems innovation, the U.S. Naval Institute, with sponsorship from Textron Systems and Bell Helicopter, is hosting the Unmanned Maritime Systems Forum.

Following the essay contest, an open online discussion will be offered through the U.S. Naval Institute Blog to develop the "conversation starters" represented by the contest winners.

Eligibility: Open to all currently or formerly serving, or civilians engaged in work or strategy on unmanned maritime systems.

Length of essays should not exceed 3,000 words.

Submit essays to essay@usni.org

Deadline: 30 October 2013

Winning essay will be published in December 2013 Proceedings (print & online).

1st Prize: $5,000 and one year U.S. Naval Institute membership

2nd Prize: $2,500 and one year U.S. Naval Institute membership

3rd Prize: $1,500 and one year U.S. Naval Institute membership


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