In this short contribution to the debate, I will focus briefly on two discrete issues cast up by unmanned vehicle (UV) technology and its use in the maritime domain: one related to definition; and one related to a specific operational issue.
But before doing so, it will be necessary that I lay out my fundamental assumption, which is that the power of general principles actually mitigates – substantially – the need to develop detailed legal regimes of governance and regulation (or at least can very adequately serve this role until we develop a fuller grasp of the practical issues that arise).
This assumption drives my assessment of the more specific issues then considered. Only with this admission made may I then move to assess two specific UV maritime operations law issues amongst the armadas of such issues worthy of detailed exploration.
I will not, for example, examine how UVs might access and employ the right of hot pursuit. Nor will I inquire into the extent to which naval warfare may have already entered the autonomous unmanned combat underwater vehicle (UCUV) age with self-propelling smart naval mines and torpedo mines which can travel to a designated site, identify a specific target on the basis of its acoustic signature, assess whether it has achieved the right combination of characteristics to allow prosecution of the target, and then give itself the go/no go order.
What I do propose to focus upon are two of the more general, contextual issues that UVs highlight in terms of maritime operations law: status; and the poise and positioning of maritime forces.
Associate Professor, College of Law, Australian National University; email@example.com.
My short contribution draws significantly upon the general themes and conclusions set out in the prefatory study by Brendan Gogarty and Meredith Hagger, and the contributions of several of the specialist authors. I come to this project with the following background, which – quite clearly – has influenced my approach: More than 20 years service in the Royal Australian Navy as both a Seaman and Legal Officer; and some experience with advising on legal issues related to unmanned vehicle (UV) technology, in the course of which I have consciously adopted a general tendency to measure against existing principles rather than to identify lacunae.
© 2011 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.