By U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, traveled to Lisbon, Portugal as an observer in the annual meeting of Chiefs of European Navies (CHENS) May 9 and 10, 2019.
During the annual meeting, the CHENS members discussed subjects of common interest including a wide range of maritime issues in order to foster common understanding. The forum also facilitated bi-lateral discussions between flag officers.
This year’s theme was “Unmanned Systems Role in Future Naval Operations”. The U.S. Navy is investing heavily in Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS) to accelerate fielding more distributed, cost-imposing, affordable, and perhaps, expendable options that complement the capability of the current battle force and achieve a more lethal balance.
“This conference provided an excellent opportunity to meet with the naval leadership of our European allies and gain valuable insight into how other nations are approaching the challenge of rapid technological change,” said Franchetti. “Maritime Unmanned Systems are rapidly advancing in capability and are anticipated to become key enablers through all phases of warfare.”
Current U.S. Navy autonomous vehicle research is focused on increasing automated shipboard operations with fewer personnel and sustained maintenance and safety. The research is also focused on operations in complex, GPS degraded environments, and exploiting the ocean environment to our tactical advantage.
The keynote speaker, Rear Adm. Antonio Gameiro Marques, Director General of the Portuguese National Security Authority, spoke about security risk in the operation of MUS. There were a number of other presentations and discussions about MUS development and deployment which highlighted that NATO and European allies continue to invest heavily in both unmanned systems and key enabling technologies for missions.
"Our naval forces frequently operate together across all warfare disciplines and it is always refreshing to gain new insights into ways for us to strengthen our bonds as we work collaboratively towards regional maritime security," said Franchetti.
CHENS is an informal, independent and non-political forum whose membership includes the Chief of Navy of each European maritime nation that is either a member of NATO or the European Union and has naval armed forces.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.