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NEWS | April 8, 2022

Sen. Gary Peters tours NUWC Division Newport combat systems, UUV labs during April 1 visit

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport welcomed U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on April 1 for a tour of some of the warfare center’s laboratories and facilities.

Peters is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Armed Services Committee, as well as the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“This was great — a fabulous, short snapshot of all that you do,” Peters said. “Thank you for all that you do for the Navy.”

Peters was accompanied on the visit by Lt. Sarah Blake, Navy Senate liaison officer for the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, and Faiq Raza, the professional staff member for Senator Peters for defense.

Tour stops included the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Laboratory and Submarine Combat Support Center, where cybersecurity was a topic of discussion.

Cybersecurity is a focus for Peters. In February, he introduced a legislative package that would significantly enhance the country’s ability to combat ongoing cybersecurity threats against critical infrastructure and the federal government — particularly in the face of potential cyberattacks sponsored by the Russian government in retaliation for U.S. support in Ukraine.

“Right now, our security agencies only know about 25 to 30% of the cyberattacks hitting our country and that’s simply unacceptable,” Peters said. “That’s why I worked to pass a bipartisan bill to bolster our cyber defenses and prepare our infrastructure for cyberattacks from Russia.”

Rebecca Chhim, head of the Combat Control Systems Department, described some of Division Newport’s efforts in the cybersecurity realm. This includes how it is the core of Division Newport’s people, processes and products, making the warfare center adaptable, valued and innovative in the cyber domain.

“Cybersecurity is just as important as any other engineering process,” Chhim said. “We need to make sure we protect the fleet today with near-term mitigations, as well as build resilience in the cyber-contested environments of the future.”

Chhim also detailed how Division Newport provides full-spectrum, tactical support to the submarine fleet. This includes the cybersecurity element that extends beyond compliance and diagnoses problems from an engineering perspective.

This, coupled with test and evaluation phases, are critical components in ensuring the fleet has the platforms it needs and that they operate every time as they are intended.

While at the Submarine Combat Center, Peters also heard a presentation from Tim Nolan, chief engineer for unmanned aerial systems in the Combat Control Systems Department.

The tour opened with Chris DelMastro, head of the Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department, describing some of the UUV projects underway. Accompanied by Richard Bashour, technical project manager for medium-sized UUVs, and Nicole Harvey, head of the Unmanned Undersea Systems Division, these projects included both medium-sized and long-duration UUV technology efforts, as well the Snakehead Phase 1 Large Displacement UUV.

“We leveraged the best of academia and industry, along with the government’s brightest minds to advance the state of the art in UUVs,” DelMastro said. “The Navy has made a lot of investments over the years and we are the stewards of those investments to transition capabilities to the fleet.”

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.

Also in the UUV Lab, DelMastro and Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings described how Division Newport is a comprehensive research, development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support center for submarine warfare systems and many other systems associated with the undersea battlespace.

“We’re highly science and technology focused,” DelMastro said. “Our workforce is comprised mostly of scientist and engineers with a significant amount of them possessing advanced degrees.”

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.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site- and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.