In September, exercises REPMUS 23 and Dynamic Messenger 23 took place in Tróia and Sesimbra, Portugal. They focused on integrating new maritime unmanned systems into NATO operations, and featured the ability of autonomous underwater vehicles to operate effectively together.

While NATO’s Dynamic Messenger has a focus on integrating maritime unmanned systems into maritime operations, Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping with Maritime Unmanned Systems focuses on capability development and interoperability. Both exercises are enabled by significant partnerships between industry and academia.

REPMUS (Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping augmented by Maritime Unmanned Systems) is an annual sea trial that focuses on technology development and interoperability. REPMUS was led by host country Portugal. The exercise is co-organised by the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), the University of Porto’s Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technology (LSTS), and NATO’s Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative (MUSI). Fifteen NATO allies, along with partner Ireland and NATO invitee Sweden, were involved in the exercise.

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Dynamic Messenger

Exercise Dynamic Messenger 23 focused on integrating maritime unmanned systems into NATO’s military operations. This exercise gathered more than 2000 civilian and military personnel, giving all involved a chance to familiarise themselves with the cutting edge of unmanned systems in the maritime domain. Fourteen NATO allies took part, as well as NATO invitee Sweden.

A notable highlight of this year’s Dynamic Messenger exercise were experiments with Emerging Disruptive Technologies to address the threat to critical undersea infrastructure. According to NATO, the ‘protection of Critical Undersea Infrastructures on Allies’ territory remains a national responsibility [but] NATO stands ready to support Allies if and when requested.’

Also read: NATO trains with new maritime unmanned systems

New NATO taskforce

Concurrent to Dynamic Messenger 2023, Allied Command Transformation will be working towards establishing the initial operating capability of the Operational Experimentation Emerging Disruptive Technologies Task Force in late autumn 2023. This exercise presents an opportunity to explore technologies to advance the Autonomy Implementation Plan.

Through these operational experiments, the Task Force will identify technology options for further experimentation in 2024. Additionally, the Task Force team will be refining objectives and evaluation criteria for future events focused on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and situational awareness within the maritime domain.