Photo By David Stoehr

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro tours undersea vehicle lab during visit to NUWC Division Newport

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro visited the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport on Nov. 16, 2021 for a series of tours that demonstrated the next evolution in undersea warfighting.

“Thank you for all that you do here at Division Newport. The work here is so critical for the Navy,” Del Toro said. “The future is in manned and unmanned operations together.”

Del Toro had the opportunity to tour Division Newport’s Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Laboratory, where he interacted with scientists and engineers about topics like Project Overmatch, improvements in torpedo capabilities and the next generation of UUVs.

“I often like to make the analogy of a submarine being like a wolf when describing the work done at Division Newport,” Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings said. “We are the ones that design the eyes, ears and teeth of the wolf.”

Stood up on Oct. 1, 2020, Project Overmatch aims to connect platforms, weapons, and sensors in a robust naval operational architecture that integrates with Joint All-Domain Command and Control. It will develop the networks, infrastructure, data architectures, and analytic tools to connect manned and unmanned distributed forces and enable the delivery of synchronized effects from every axis and every domain.

The Project Overmatch team is working across system commands, warfare centers, the other armed services as well as a consortium of industry expertise to effectively exploit modern innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and information and networking technologies for improved force readiness worldwide.

At Division Newport, Del Toro heard about some of the efforts underway to advance the undersea warfare aspects of this Navy-wide project.

“We have adopted a mission-driven approach to prioritize Overmatch capabilities,” Gene Hackney, director, Undersea Warfare, Naval Sea Systems Command Warfare Centers, said. “We are identifying specific innovative ‘links and applications’ that can be developed and fielded near-term to support our most stressing missions.”

Chris DelMastro, head of the Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department, followed with a description of the Snakehead Phase 1 Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV). When finished, it will be the Navy’s largest submarine-launched unmanned system to de-risk and inform future acquisitions, as well as Navy LDUUV concepts of operations. NUWC leads a team comprised of warfare center, academia and industry partners to execute the Snakehead Phase 1 effort.

Snakehead Phase 1 is a modular reconfigurable, multi-mission UUV deployed from submarine large ocean interfaces, with a government-owned architecture, mission autonomy and vehicle software. Snakehead Phase 1 provides guidance and control, navigation, situational awareness, propulsion, maneuvering and sensors in support of the Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment (IPOE) mission.

”Snakehead Phase 1 is accomplishing many firsts for the Navy in the areas of hull materials, lithium-ion certification, and submarine launch and recovery,” DelMastro said.

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher’s Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.


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