International and domestic laws and regulations, and in particular those addressing environmental protections related to the world’s oceans, have no clear application to unmanned maritime vehicles (UMVs). Instead, legal scholars have attempted to fit UMVs into current legal schemes in a piecemeal manner that UMVs practically and realistically cannot comply with. UMVs are inherently different than their manned counterparts and therefore require a unique legal framework separate and apart from manned vessels. Without its own legal scheme, the United States Navy and other organizations will not be able to realize the full potential of UMVs—not only for their military operational advantages but their significant environmental advantages as well. Thus, the United States should carefully construct a new legal regime for UMVs. By leading the way for the international community, the United States can effectively ensure proper legal recognition and widespread deployment of UMVs on both a domestic and international scale while also upholding strong environmental protection policies.



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