Naval Open Source Intelligence pointed me to a report by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on the use of multiple unmanned surface assets to protect an asset and if necessary initiate a coordinated attack.
“The technology—called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing)—is under development by ONR, and can be put into a transportable kit and installed on almost any boat. It allows boats to operate autonomously, without a Sailor physically needing to be at the controls—including operating in sync with other unmanned vessels; choosing their own routes; swarming to interdict enemy vessels; and escorting/protecting naval assets.”
Why should the Coast Guard care? The Coast Guard also protects vital maritime assets including passenger ships, vessels with dangerous cargos, and Navy assets including major ships and ballistic missile submarines so there is that direct application.
The system also appears capable of providing a persistent patrol capability that might be useful in Interdiction Operations. We cannot put a boat crew in a RHIB and send them off to operated as an independent extended sensor for 24 hours, but we could do that with an automated RHIB.