Saildrone founder and chief executive officer Richard Jenkins accepted the 2022 Albert A. Michelson Award from the Navy League of the United States for his company’s contribution to maritime forces.
The award is presented annually to a “civilian scientist, technical innovator or group or organization that has demonstrated scientific or technical achievement that has resulted in a significant improvement in the strength of our maritime forces or to the enhancement of our industrial-technology base.”
Jenkins received the award April 5 in ceremonies at the Sea Air Space Conference at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
Previous Michelson Award winners include Edward “Sonny” Masso, executive director of the Naval Historical Foundation, Dr. Bruce Danly, director of research for the U.S. Navy, and Clifton E. Athon, Nuclear Fuel Services’ principal scientist.
Saildrone vehicles have achieved notable milestones in recent years, including being the first unmanned surface vehicle (USV) to sail from San Francisco to Hawaii in October 2013, and the first uncrewed vehicle to circumnavigate Antarctica in August in 2019.
In January 2021, Saildrone launched the 72-foot Surveyor, the first USV capable of autonomously mapping the ocean floor to a depth of 23,000 feet (7,000 m). The Surveyor completed its first uncrewed bathymetric survey from San Francisco to Hawaii in July 2021.
In December 2021, the US Navy’s 5th Fleet began operating a group of Saildrone Explorer USVs in the Red Sea off the coast of Bahrain, and later in the Arabian Gulf off the coast of Jordan, to demonstrate how Saildrone USVs can “provide persistent presence in a dynamic maritime environment,” according to Saildrone.