By Alan D. Kent, Acting Technical Director, NUWC Keyport
The mission of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport has changed dramatically since the creation of the command nearly a century ago. One thing hasn’t changed: the commitment to our nation’s warfighters.
The Pacific Coast Torpedo Station was founded in November 1914 to meet the Navy’s need for a West Coast torpedo depot. As the Navy’s needs expanded, so did the product and service offerings of the command to the point where torpedoes now comprise only one-third of NUWC Keyport’s business. The command is known not only for its torpedo expertise but for its unique test and evaluation capabilities, exceptional engineering and fleet support, cutting-edge autonomous underwater systems, and creative custom engineered and obsolescence management solutions, which are in high demand.
Torpedo Depot and Intermediate Maintenance Activity
NUWC Keyport is always adapting to the changing world situation with improved technology and weaponry. A prime example of this adaptability is the Torpedo Depot, which provides fleet material support, modernization and industrial technology engineering, and full industrial depot repair capability for undersea warfare (USW) weapons and systems. The Depot was created in response to the need for a facility to perform major repairs and maintenance to heavyweight and lightweight torpedo components and systems. In this role, the Depot has supported every variation of torpedo that has served the U.S. Navy as well as those of several foreign navies.
The Depot provides complete end-to-end repair services including component disassembly, failure analysis, mechanical and electronic systems reverse engineering, new component or systems design and engineering, mechanical and electronic component repair or manufacturing, reassembly, testing, and reissue as “A-Condition” or “as new” hardware.
NUWC Keyport’s industrial complex contains the testing capabilities and infrastructure to perform depot maintenance on MK 46, MK 54, MK 48, and MK 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes, which includes automated test capability for most electronic components and subassemblies. In addition to the Depot repair capability, NUWC Keyport operates two of the Navy’s three Heavyweight Intermediate Maintenance Activities (IMA): one in Keyport, Wash. and the other at the Pacific Detachment in Pearl Harbor, as well as the Navy’s only Lightweight IMA at Keyport.
The synergy created by having depot, IMA, and engineering capabilities at one Navy facility improves the efficiency for delivery of USW weapons and vehicles to the fleet.
Sandra Perry-Campbell of NUWC Keyport's Torpedo and Mine Maintenance Division
works on a lightweight torpedo in the Intermediate Maintenance Activity in Keyport, Wash.
MK 30 Target Depot and Operating Sites
Going hand in hand with torpedo support is the command’s support of mobile targets.
The Navy’s only MK 30 Mobile Target Depot is operated by NUWC Keyport. The Depot is responsible for performing the basic depot operations of hardware repair, hardware maintenance, and required support functions in support of MK 30 target runs worldwide.
The MK 30 targets provide the capability to simulate dynamic, acoustic, and magnetic attributes of a live submarine used to train crews in submarine detection, localization and classification, and exercise weapon firings.
The operational sites prepare, maintain, schedule, and provide MK 30 targets in support of fleet anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training operations. NUWC Keyport operates four MK 30 op sites: Keyport, Wash.; Kauai, Hawaii; San Diego, Calif.; and a recently established site in Guam. Each MK 30 op site supports the following training ranges, respectively: Dabob Bay in Washington and Nanoose in British Columbia, Canada; Pacific Missile Range Facility; Southern California Offshore Range; and open ocean operations for the Pacific Fleet in the Western Pacific.
Application of Advanced Technologies, Repair Techniques, and Processes to Sustain Fielded Systems Partnering is a key to success when dealing with emerging technologies.
Working closely with industry, academia, and other DoD industrial organizations, NUWC Keyport develops and promotes application of new industrial technologies for improved repair, fabrication, and production in support of fielded weapon systems. The command’s work has led to its designation as both a DoD Manufacturing Technology Center of Excellence and a DoD Center of Industrial and Technology Excellence.
Some of the new industrial technologies being used include the following.
Custom Engineered Solutions (CES). Unique maintenance engineering and industrial capabilities enable obsolescence management of DoD materials and components by applying reverse engineering expertise, technology development, and component fabrication and repair capabilities. Components include circuit cards, cables, power supplies, and gyros that have been abandoned by industry. CES capability ensures a ready supply of weapon system components to meet current and future military requirements.
Aluminum Laser Cladding. Aluminum laser cladding is used in a variety of applications for undersea vehicle systems as well as aviation components.
Three Dimensional (3D) Laser Scanning. An automated laser scanning system has been implemented to enhance reverse engineering and part inspection capabilities enabling quick development of computerized part models for undocumented hardware and enhancing in-process parts inspection.
Advanced Composites. Equipment and processes are used for standard and high-performance composites using fiberglass, carbon, and Kevlar materials. An autoclave system controls temperature, pressure, and vacuum for bonding and curing composite structures.
3D Printing. 3D printing and rapid prototyping processes have been commonly used at NUWC Keyport for more than a decade with more than 25,000 components produced on the selective laser sintering system for tooling, test and production fixtures, and end-use tactical parts.
In addition, the AMCAST rapid prototyping system at NUWC Keyport is the only system in DoD capable of printing sophisticated sand molds directly from three-dimensional computer part models. The normal process of producing sand molds and cores is costly and time-consuming but, with AMCAST, NUWC Keyport has reduced mold making time dramatically. In one case, the time to make the mold dropped from nine months to three days. AMCAST castings are currently in service on various submarines, proving their reliability in demanding settings daily.
NUWC Keyport’s focus on maintenance and fabrication technology enables sustainment and stability of existing equipment, allowing scarce resources to be applied for weapons technology advances versus redesigning systems based simply on obsolescence.
NUWC Division, Keyport's Heavyweight Test Vehicle Launcher (HTVL) is readied
for launch by Keyport engineers aboard the R/V NAWC-38. HTVL was used to
successfully launch MK 48 based threat surrogate test vehicles against the
USS George HW Bush (CVN 77)
Direct Support to the Fleet
Part of the fleet’s strategic priority to Operate Forward is being achieved with NUWC Keyport’s direct support to the fleet.
NUWC’s divisions in Newport and Keyport teamed with the fleet to identify the level of in-service engineering (ISE) support required for various systems and jointly determined that support should be delivered to key submarine force concentration areas. The delivery mechanisms included on-site presence, fly-away teams, and a distance support system.
By adding a NUWC presence in Pearl Harbor and Guam, the fleet substantially reduced challenges it had previously experienced with communicating across multiple time zones and dealing with delays when on-site response was required from a NUWC engineer or technician traveling from the mainland.
Critical non-propulsion electronics systems like fire control, imaging, electronic warfare, vertical launch, and towed systems are now supported with on-site NUWC expertise that not only delivers NUWC’s ISE role but has the added benefit of delivering engineering and technical support to the TYCOM and squadron staffs.
As submarine support requirements have grown in Guam, NUWC’s waterfront support has grown along with it. NUWC Keyport’s Guam on-site office mitigates the time zone challenge of having fewer than 20 common workweek hours with the rest of the United States. NUWC responded to the fleet’s need for forward-positioned ISE representatives and recently developed a forward-deployed torpedo exercise support capability.
Fielding New Capabilities
Save lives and equipment.
That was the ultimate goal when a challenge was met 85 miles off the coast of Virginia in November 2013. The Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) System had been successfully tested once before; however, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) issued a challenge: could the partners involved in the program install SSTD on USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during a brief, 18-month window prior to deployment?
The answer was “yes.”
A successful three-day quick reaction assessment (QRA) was conducted by Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force and was one of the final steps in the CNO’s “Push to Bush” challenge. It was only the second aircraft carrier at-sea test of the system. NUWC Keyport’s inventory of heavyweight test vehicles, design and production of the heavyweight test vehicle launcher (HTVL), and use of the portable tracking range, all aided in the success of the QRA.
NUWC Keyport is a partner in the SSTD program, managed by the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems Program Office (PMS 415). SSTD consists of a torpedo warning system (TWS) and countermeasure, anti-torpedo (CAT) and is considered a “system of systems” to be installed on aircraft carriers and combat logistics force ships by 2035.
NUWC Keyport’s inventory of heavyweight test vehicles supporting CAT and TWS development provides the command’s experts the surrogates for threat torpedoes to provide stimulation for the TWS towed array or for the CAT. The modular design of the test vehicles also allows them to serve as a test bed for efficiently developing and proofing out various CAT systems.
NUWC Keyport developed the HTVL to facilitate testing on USS George H.W. Bush. This portable slide launcher can launch up to four heavyweight test vehicles from a surface craft and can be deployed from a craft of opportunity anywhere in the world.
Also developed for the SSTD QRA was a modified variant of the shallow-water integrated flexible tracking range to provide 3D underwater track reconstruction of SSTD test events. This system can be deployed anywhere in the world and can provide the same quality of underwater 3D track data that the fixed ranges can provide.
These tools now enable NUWC Keyport to transport a load of eight heavyweight test vehicles to any maritime environment in the world.
Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jason Fisher, right, briefs Japan Maritime Self-Defense
Force officers on the capabilities a remote environmental monitoring unit (REMUS 100)
aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9) during Keen
Sword 2011. The REMUS 100 is an unmanned undersea vehicle used for mine
detection. Keen Sword is the 10th joint training exercise since 1986 involving Japan
Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military.
Unmanned Undersea Vehicles – Tomorrow’s Undersea Weapon
The Navy’s ongoing commitment to unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) has been evident in NUWC Keyport’s work in technology experimentation and demonstrations for test vehicles/trucks, payloads, propulsion systems, energy capabilities, and launch and recovery.
The military operation waters in the Pacific Northwest provide a wide variety of comparable threat environments for tactics, techniques and procedures development, as well as operator training. Varying depths, currents, salinity, bottom types, and bathometry with influences such as commercial and recreational vessel traffic, fishing fleets as well as sub, surface, and air fleet military assets afford the environments and tools to emulate future missions.
Additionally, these waters have environmental approval to support UUV and payload operations along with fixed and portable tracking capabilities for real-time precision location of the UUVs, as well as underwater acoustic measurement capability to ascertain the vehicle’s radiated noise signature.
The Pacific Northwest Ranges have proven to be so well suited for these applications that it has served as host to major activities, such as the Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle Festival that featured more than 50 vehicles; the collaborative networked autonomous vehicles that deploy 44 REMUS 100
vehicles to form an underwater network; the persistent littoral undersea surveillance network that supported five large research vessels in addition to 25 systems, and 125 UUVs used for research and development demonstration of payloads and launch and recovery.
Unique Underwater Test Ranges
The protected waters situated between the Kitsap Peninsula and the towering Olympic Mountains have played an important role in our nation’s defense for decades: they house a unique underwater testing range.
The six square nautical miles of the highly instrumented Dabob Bay Range Complex boasts a variety of depths, currents, and other factors that are ideal for testing undersea warfare equipment and systems. In addition to the Dabob Bay Range, NUWC Keyport partners with the Royal Canadian Navy to operate the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges in Nanoose, Vancouver Island, Canada. With 52 square nautical miles and depths up to 1,300 feet, the Nanoose Firing Range is able to host large fleet exercises. Both ranges use acoustic tracking capability for real-time exercise control, reconstruction and analysis, support radiated noise measurement of undersea vehicles and platforms, and use underwater targets for weapon/vehicle stimulation. The ranges are supported by a fleet of marine vessels, including two yard torpedo test (YTT) vessels capable of launching both torpedoes.
New capabilities will need to address tracking multiple underwater objects, preventing interference with systems under test (SUT), and tracking extremely quiet SUTs. Ideally, future underwater acoustic tracking systems will be capable of tracking at any selected frequency to avoid interference with systems under test. A major step in this direction was accomplished with the dual-frequency tracking arrays installed in Nanoose. The technology not only allows the use of two tracking frequencies but provides the ability to track in the presence of countermeasures and increases the number of items tracked.
In conjunction with acoustic tracking systems, the future shows potential for optical tracking. Although limitations currently exist, laser technologies offer interesting opportunities to track and communicate with new weapon systems. NUWC Keyport is actively working to develop test beds for using and employing these emerging technologies.
Similar to in-air challenges, the underwater frequency spectrum is becoming more congested as new weapon systems take advantage of frequencies available. This resulted in the development of the common acoustic acquisition system (CAAS), a new test and evaluation system deployed on the Nanoose and Dabob Bay ranges in 2012 that allows for radiated noise acquisition at higher frequencies. Because of its modern open architecture system, CAAS can be updated easily and is common with many other range systems, including underwater tracking systems.
Perhaps the most dynamic of all underwater range instrumentation are target systems. As weapon systems become more complex, fooling them with simple targets is no longer achievable. Targets must now be furnished with enhanced realism capabilities. NUWC Keyport is a leader in undersea warfare target development for research and development.
Lt. j.g. Bret Andrews, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton
(DDG 60), stands officer of the deck watch in the Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training and Testing Facility (FIST2FAC) operated by the
Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport, located on Ford Island, Hawaii.
FIST2FAC allows Sailors to interact with artificially intelligent synthetic forces
in various settings.
Fleet Synthetic Training — Changing the Way the Warfighter Learns
Merging the real world with the virtual world is something gamers deal with every day. But it’s not just about games. The Navy is finding beneficial, cost-effective ways to blend those worlds as well.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has demonstrated that merging those worlds is the key to future training in the Navy and has done so by creating the Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility (FIST2FAC).
FIST2FAC is located on Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor at NUWC Keyport’s Pacific Detachment. FIST2FAC enables a scientific approach to the study of information, computation, and application to advance synthetic training effectiveness and efficiency in the Navy.
The practical evaluation of concept technologies involves artificial intelligence, computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and computational complexity theory. FIST2FAC allows Sailors to interact with artificially intelligent forces in countless settings and train for multiple missions simultaneously. The system can replicate simple and complex situations involving aircraft carriers, helicopters, lethal and nonlethal weapons, and more.
In August 2013, an experiment was conducted to explore improved integrated training solutions for the Warfighter to defeat the fast attack craft – fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) threat. Fleet operators staffed multiple shipboard and helicopter stations and successfully demonstrated integrated training across multiple visual monitors at various stations and platforms.
Because the system combines a hassle-free setup with software and gaming technology, those involved with the program believe this will help development of strategies for a variety of missions and operations. Ultimately, this could result in improved mission success and enable quicker transitions to new programs.
FIST2FAC allows Sailors to “train like they fight” by presenting realistic forces in a visual, tactical and operational environment. In addition to the fast attack craft threat, FIST2FAC has been used to simulate ASW and strike group operations with aircraft carriers, destroyers, and helicopters. Soon, the system will address electronic, mine, and anti-air warfare scenarios. The goal is to make this capability available on ships at sea.
The associated cost benefits with FIST2FAC could be substantial. Although the system has an initial investment, in contrast to real-life training missions, simulations can be re-used to train multiple warfare areas across multiple platforms without recurring costs. Users can explore endless possibilities without the expense and logistical challenges of putting hundreds of ships at sea and aircraft in the sky.
A Century of Service
The transition from a fledgling command with 16 enlisted men and eight civilians on a remote peninsula to one with nearly 2,000 civilians and military personnel throughout the world was one that no one could have envisioned when the command was founded a century ago.
The remarkable innovations, technology, and support to the fleet and our nation were the hallmarks of NUWC Keyport’s first 100 years. The next century promises to build on those successes with innovative technical products that demonstrate that NUWC Keyport’s first priority is the Navy’s undersea superiority.
Naval Sea Logistics Center: Managing Maintenance for the Fleet
Naval Sea Logistics Center (NSLC) is a shore activity that administratively reports to NUWC Keyport. The professional workforce of over 300 civilian logisticians, engineers, technicians, and analysts located at six primary sites serve as NAVSEA’s technical agent for developing, maintaining, and assessing lifecycle logistics support policies, procedures, products, and data systems.