We live in an age of acceleration, a time when the pace of innovation is increasing as the effects of Moore’s law produce unexpected combinations of social, technological and environmental change at a tempo that often exceeds our ability to adapt.1 This evolving situation is a primary concern shaping contemporary Naval strategy. According to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John M. Richardson, “The pace of competition has accelerated in many areas, achieving exponential and disruptive rates of change. As this pace drives yet more unpredictability, the future is becoming more uncertain. . . . We cannot become overwhelmed by the blistering pace.”
1. Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).
2. CAPT Wayne P. Hughes Jr., USN (Ret.) and RADM Robert P. Girrier, USN (Ret.), Fleet Tactics and Naval Operations, Third Edition (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2018), 3.
3. George W. Baer, One Hundred Years of Sea Power: The U.S. Navy 1890–1990 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 135–145.
4. Hughes and Girrier, Fleet Tactics, 144.
5. James A. Russell, “Bureaucracy, Innovation, and Maritime Strategy: The Problem of 21st Century Fleet Design,” in James A. Russell and Alessio Patalano (eds.), Maritime Strategy and Naval Innovation: Technology, Bureaucracy and the Problem of Change in an Age of Competition (Forthcoming).
6. Since the mid-1980s, Wayne Hughes has been calling for the Navy to develop low-cost pulse missile firepower delivered by surface combatants to diversify the Navy’s offensive capabilities. With Sea Hunter, the technology to accomplish this mission has arrived.
7. The fact that the second autonomous vessel has actually been designated “Sea Hunter II,” suggests that the scope and nature of the program is not entirely appreciated by those surrounding it.