The Royal Navy is helping test the latest innovations in unmanned maritime warfare during a NATO exercise in Portugal.
The exercise is aimed at testing new technology that could be deployed to help combat threats at sea.
Among the technologies involved in the exercise, there is the Royal Navy’s Pacific 950 rib.
The Pacific 950 can be crewed remotely at sea for up to ten days and is designed to meet the demanding requirements of special forces.
"We cannot cover everything with manned assets," explained Kevin Moyer, from the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative, as he discussed costs and safety.
He described the unmanned maritime systems as a great "asset" to NATO.
The Royal Navy is working with allies from the Portuguese Navy, Belgium, Italy, Poland, the US and Turkey, as well as the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation.
"In a war-time scenario, you want to be able to have the force production that you get from working with our allies... and you want to be able to have the most relevant, up-to-date information consolidated into a decision-making tool," said Andrea Bell-Millner, US Navy Program Executive Officer.
Despite the innovations, manpower continues to play a vital role in maritime warfare and during the exercise the Portuguese Naval Special Forces practised boarding a hijacked vessel.
While it is still a long way from replacing highly trained and skilled units with unmanned technologies, the exercise is instrumental to the forces as it offers an opportunity to see how new technology can be integrated into their missions.
The new technology being used in this exercise has been called a game-changer as it has the potential of altering intelligence-gathering and making it more cost-effective and safer.