Sea Hunter unmanned sea surface vehicle
Sea Hunter unmanned sea surface vehicle

US Navy Breaks Ground on New Unmanned Vehicle Testing Facilities at Port Hueneme

The U.S. Navy conducted a joint ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 8 for the first purpose-built and co-located facilities for unmanned maritime vehicle testing. Located on Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Port Hueneme, the facilities will accommodate testing, evaluation, and technology demonstration for Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) and Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) prototypes. PMS 406, within the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC), oversees the XLUUV, Large USV, Medium USV programs, and their advanced technology capabilities.

“These facilities will be the focal point of Navy learning and experimentation on the capabilities, operations and sustainment of Unmanned Maritime Vehicle prototypes to inform future programs,” said Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406).

Surface Development Squadron 1 Commander Capt. Jeffrey Heames, Fleet Introduction Team Principal Assistant Program Manager Capt. William Filip and Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office Manager Capt. Pete Small pose for a photo with shovels at the Parcel 19 groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 8 onboard Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme.(Photo by Moraima Johnston/Office of Naval Research )

The ribbon-cutting recognized completion of modifications to the existing Littoral Combat Ship Mission Package Support Facility (Building 1392) that will house the XLUUV prototypes, and personnel who will perform test and evaluation and training on the vehicles, which are in fabrication under a contract with Boeing. The ground breaking recognized the start of construction of the modular administrative building for the newly established Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron One personnel who will operate and maintain the unmanned vehicle prototypes.

In addition to five Orca XLUUV prototypes, the NBVC Port Hueneme site will eventually accommodate one MUSV, two Sea Hunter USV, and four Overlord USV prototypes. NBVC is ideally suited for these facilities with ready access to open-water instrumented ranges, multimodal expeditionary transportation capabilities, proximity to Navy and industry hubs, and synergies with other tenant commands.

The Strategic Capabilities Office’s Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vessels, USS Ranger and USS Nomad unmanned vessels conduct underway operations off the coast of California in 2021. After transiting to the West Coast — almost entirely in autonomous mode — the vessels will continue fleet experimentation before transitioning to the Navy in early 2022.(U.S. Navy photo by Eric Parsons)