Test and Evaluation Aboard the Test Ship
The U. S. Navy dedicated the decommissioned Spruance Class destroyer ex-PAUL F. FOSTER (EDD 964), Test Ship, primarily for at sea demonstration of short range weapon systems and other surface combat and weapon system projects. In addition to Combat & Weapons system Test & Evaluation, the Test Ship supports multiple types and all levels of engineering, testing and evaluation aspects of Naval systems including:
- Floating laboratory for design investigation, training, and logistics product proofing
- Distance support development
- Advanced technology demos
- Target Evaluation
- Hull, Mechanical, and electrical initiatives
- In-Service Engineering agent (ISEA) investigations
The Test Ship provides the Navy with an at-sea weapons test and evaluation platform that can be manned when appropriate and, by design, has the unique capability of being operated in remote control to support live-fire test operations to fully evaluate the complete detect-control-engage sequence.
Test Ship operations are conducted from facilities at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme (NSWC PHD) and Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at Point Mugu within the Sea Test Range. The Test Ship implements radio frequency connectivity coupled with fiber optic technology to provide remote controlled combat system and ship navigation capabilities to support a variety of unmanned test events. This capability allows for the conduct of very close in engagements by self defense weapons systems of real-world targets. Targets can fly attack profiles in a realistic at sea environment without risk to personnel. The combat/weapon system and navigation control is performed from the Surface Warfare Engineering Facility (SWEF) at NSWC PHD.
The Test Ship and its location at NSWC PHD has proven beneficial to the Navy for a number of reasons.
- The Port of Hueneme is adjacent to the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division at Point Mugu within the Sea Test Range, which provides the users of the Test Ship with thousands of nautical miles of support for testing.
- The Test Ship has proven its efficiency by providing the most realistic combat scenarios for test events to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of weapon systems while reducing risks, costs, and the timeline for introduction of new systems into the fleet.
- Leaves Navy ships and their Sailors available to the fleet to perform their duties
- Because it is remote-controlled, provides a flexible test platform, free from the safety constraints and in-port problems associated with manned ships