Monday, September 20, 2021

U.S. Navy moving forward with large autonomous submarine development

The U.S. Navy is moving forward with a key step in developing a large autonomous submarine, according to a recent Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport news release.

In June, Naval Undersea Warfare Division Keyport was selected as the In-Service Engineering Agent, or ISEA, for the Orca class Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, Large Displacement UUV and Razorback dry deck shelter launch and recovery UUV.

Formally assigned through an Engineering Agent Responsibility Document, or EARD, Keyport is assigned as the primary warfare center focused on the life-cycle sustainment of the aforementioned UUVs.

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While executing significant Systems Engineering and Integrated Product Support functions, Keyport will lead broader collaboration across the warfare centers once the vehicles are identified as “In-Service”.

“This EARD, which was especially challenging to draft given these programs were and some still are being subjected to significant design efforts, wouldn’t have been possible without the extensive collaboration brought by many across the Naval Sea Systems Command enterprise,” said Jason Durst , Deputy Director, Unmanned and Theater Undersea Warfare Systems Department. “I’m looking forward to the continued partnership with those at (Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, Rhode Island and Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, Maryland) in the further definition of our processes and interrelationships. Over the last couple of years, we’ve generated significant respect for one another while forming a deeper understanding of each organization’s primary areas of expertise.”

These ISEA assignments exemplify Keyport’s vast experience in In-Service Engineering and Maintenance functions and reflect its new technical capabilities centered on UUV Maintenance and In-Service Engineering.

“The formal Engineering Agent assignments provided immediate empowerment and positive assertiveness toward the necessary teaming across the warfare centers,” said Nicole Lerner, Orca Technical Project Manager. “For the Orca program, Carderock, Keyport, and Newport leveraged this momentum through the enactment of the Orca Engineering Agent Working Group where we meet periodically to refine processes and tackle program challenges. It’s great to see the enactment of the EA assignments through a dedicated working group to continue the conversation started with the EA letters.”

By leveraging local infrastructure and the partnership with Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron One, at Keyport, NUWC Keyport is postured to be at the forefront of ensuring these vehicles meet the needs of the Navy’s fleet.

Orca is under development by Boeing by Huntington Ingalls Industries. In February, HII acquired Hydroid Inc. from Kongsberg to build Orca, four of which the U.S. Navy plans to acquire.

This long-range autonomous vehicle will perform a variety of missions, enabled by a reconfigurable payload bay. Key attributes include extended vehicle range, autonomy, and persistence.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
U.S. defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.

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