U,S. Navy Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) and HII entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) entitled Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) Launch and Recovery (LAR) Testing, Sept. 1, 2022. Pharos is a new HII LAR system which was built to operate with large unmanned underwater vehicles like Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV). Prior to shipping Pharos to NUWC Newport, HII needed to ensure the system could accommodate Snakehead, and that it was capable of ballasting, de-ballasting and able to be recovered in a loaded condition. As a result, the NSWC PCD Unmanned Systems Test and Evaluation Team expeditiously engaged to support its CRADA partner HII and sister warfare center NUWC Newport by developing and executing a complex demonstration test event in very short order.
“NSWC PCD has a dedicated unmanned system (UxS) test and evaluation branch with the ability to apply expertise with rapid response to provide agile, effective solutions to meet mission objectives. Couple that with our ability to quickly coordinate CRADA approval and our 185,000 square miles of ranges which can support all classes of vehicles with everything from cross-domain UxS operations to live-fire events or, in this case, launch and recovery testing.,” said Hal Rhea III, NSWC PCD Unmanned Systems Test & Evaluation Branch head.
“We are very proud to be working with the U.S. Navy on advancing the capability to deploy unmanned vehicles on amphibious ships. Continuing to collaborate with the Navy early in this process, and successfully conducting these two additional demonstration tests, enables us to move forward expeditiously with further testing to mature the Pharos capabilities,” said Randy Johnson, Sr. Director of Research, Development, and Process Technology within HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division.
“Through this CRADA with NSWC Panama City Division, HII can continue to leverage unique capabilities from across the enterprise to advance the future of distributed maritime operations,” said Brian McKeon, Sr. Director of Technology within HII’s Mission Technologies division.
“This test is truly the best form of collaboration between U.S. Navy labs and CRADA partner HII. We are collaborating as One Team to perform a service that will provide incredible returns to the U.S. Navy as a whole,” said NSWC PCD Technology Transfer Manager Paige George. “Without NSWC PCD support, there would be delays in shipment to NUWC which could negatively impact the program. This is a BIG win all around!”
Beyond CRADA partnerships, other entities were instrumental in this successful demonstration. Security teams from NSWC PCD and its host installation, Naval Support Activity Panama City, also coordinated to play a critical role in support of successful testing. U. S. Coast Guard Station Panama City also provided security services and on-site support during the effort both pier-side and at their boat launch. Through the accomplishments of this CRADA, HII can continue to demonstrate Pharos capabilities to the fleet, apply lesson-learned to further mature and advance autonomy concepts, and continue to develop innovative national security solutions. This collaborative effort highlights the value, impact and numerous capabilities of the One Team enterprise. This Naval Sea Systems Command mindset aims to focus and combine its 10 warfare centers’ efforts to achieve mission success for the fleet and the warfighter.