Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed tour NUWC Division Newport’s unmanned vehicle facility

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee overseeing the U.S. Department of Defense, visited the Naval Undersea Warfare Center  Division Newport on April 6.

As part of the Secretary of the Navy’s tour of some of New England’s Navy facilities, Harker and Reed toured the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) High Bay workspace for an update on Division Newport’s work in UUVs, torpedoes, submarine-launched systems, marine mammal monitoring, and bio-inspired technologies.

Division Newport’s Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings and Technical Director Ron Vien greeted the dignitaries and shared details about the workforce and the expertise that resides within the Command.

Chris DelMastro, head of the Undersea Warfare (USW) Platforms and Payload Integration Department, talked about Division Newport’s expertise in UUVs as well as its partnerships with industry and academia.

Hector Lopez, head of the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department, described the Command’s long history of developing torpedoes for the Navy as well as his department’s expertise in offensive and defensive systems.

Darlene Sullivan, head of the USW Electromagnetic Systems Department, highlighted one of her department’s many success stories detailing, a vital technology that went from concept to fielding in six months with excellent feedback from the fleet.

Jessica Shaffer, a technical program manager with the USW Combat Systems Department, shared another type of unmanned technology being developed at Division Newport — the Submarine-Launched Unmanned Aerial System. This system, which is part of an upcoming integrated fleet exercise, leverages Army UAV technology and combines it with Division Newport’s specialized expertise in the undersea domain.

Scott Veitch, engineer and technical program manager with the USW Platforms and Payload Integration Department, shared another of the Division Newport’s success stories — the Kingfish UUV, a project completed 18 months ahead of schedule and $2.5 million under budget.

Dr. Christin Murphy, a scientist and branch head representing the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department, shared a portfolio of bio-inspired research projects: bats’ echolocation for swarming, fish tails for propellers, and seal whiskers for sensing. Division Newport’s research of this technology includes collaborative work with Brown University.

Jeff Hebert, director of programs for the Ranges, Engineering, and Analysis Department, explained how his department’s Marine Mammal Modeling and Monitoring Program and the Navy Acoustic Effects Model help maintain the Navy’s reputation as stewards of the sea by  studying how sonar influences the behaviors of marine mammals.

The tour concluded with an introduction of a new UUV that was developed with the help of a local Rhode Island business.

“With many of these programs, we’re working with industry and academia and across the Navy research and development enterprise to advance the state of the art in undersea warfare, ensuring the U.S. Navy maintains undersea superiority today and tomorrow,” Vien said.

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