The concept of operations (CONOPS) for unmanned maritime systems (UMS) continues to envision systems that are
multi-mission, re-configurable and capable of acceptable performance over a wide range of environmental and
contextual variability. Key enablers for these concepts of operation are an autonomy module which can execute
different mission directives and a mission payload consisting of re-configurable sensor or effector suites. This level of
modularity in mission payloads enables affordability, flexibility (i.e., more capability with future platforms) and
scalability (i.e., force multiplication). The modularity in autonomy facilitates rapid technology integration, prototyping,
testing and leveraging of state-of-the-art advances in autonomy research. Capability drivers imply a requirement to
maintain an open architecture design for both research and acquisition programs. As the maritime platforms become
more stable in their design (e.g. unmanned surface vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles) future developments are
able to focus on more capable sensors and more robust autonomy algorithms. To respond to Fleet needs, given an
evolving threat, programs will want to interchange the latest sensor or a new and improved algorithm in a cost effective
and efficient manner. In order to make this possible, the programs need a reference architecture that will define for
technology providers where their piece fits and how to successfully integrate. With these concerns in mind, the US
Navy established the Unmanned Maritime Systems Reference Architecture (UMS-RA) Working Group in August 2011.
This group consists of Department of Defense and industry participants working the problem of defining reference
architecture for autonomous operations of maritime systems. This paper summarizes its efforts to date.