West Bethesda, Md. –
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in collaboration with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) received the 2022 DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology (S&T) Collaboration Award. The award was given for their exceptional efforts in the planning and execution of the 47-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB) Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E), which was part of the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). A virtual award ceremony was held on Microsoft Teams, Nov. 17.
The awardees consisted of a test team from NSWCCD’s Test and Evaluation (T&E) Engineering Resource Branch within the Combatant Craft Division in Little Creek, Virginia, including; John Huber, test director and East Coast test lead; Maeanna Stover, test lead and test support; Alice Freese, West Coast test lead and test engineer; and Phillip Pullen, test engineer.
The USCG 47-foot MLB was designed to weather hurricane force winds and heavy seas, capable of surviving winds up to 50 knots and breaking surf up to 20 feet. More importantly, should the boat capsize, it self-rights in fewer than 10 seconds with all equipment fully functional. The SLEP was designed to refit these boats and bring them up to a modern configuration — updating the electronic systems and propulsion systems onboard, as well as inputting better human factors, such as shock absorbing seating.
As part of this program, the Carderock test team collaborated with the USCG to conduct an operational assessment (OA), as well as the IOT&E, which had to be completed in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. For the OA, the test team collaborated with the USCG National MLB School at Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco, Washington, which took place during the winter of 2020-21.
“The IOT&E event that we were nominated for was the result of many years of solid work by Maeanna Stover and Ryan Faber,” Huber said. “Our success as a team was reliant on years of supporting work by Faber and Stover. Stover was the continuing thread through this multi-year event, and a large amount of the work supporting this nomination: identifying requirements, creating metrics, tracing requirements to measure the metrics and the deputy test director for OA.”
In total, this was a six-year effort, run by Faber and Stover through the completion of the OA and Huber through the completion of IOT&E.
“The first portion of testing was the OA to determine program risks to IOT&E,” Stover said. “We were able carry forward many lessons learned from OA into IOT&E.”
The purpose of the IOT&E was to thoroughly test the MLBs in operationally realistic conditions and determine if the platform remained effective and suitable. For this testing, USCG stations Barnegat Light in New Jersey and Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, were chosen as the East and West Coast test site locations.
Testing at the East Coast test site, USCG Station Barnegat Light, took one month, while the West Coast site at USCG Station Yaquina Bay took a month and a half.
“The pace at each station was significantly different,” Huber said. “On the West Coast, it was their busy season, which meant it was demanding and harder for us to be able to go out and collect data. Meanwhile, for the East Coast testing, they were not as busy, and were able to devote more resources toward maximizing the test event.”
Additionally, the 47-foot MLB is an active boat, which provided additional challenges to the test team.
“A lot of times we would get underway with the crew and not know if we would even be able to complete our test objectives,” Freese said. “The station on the West Coast was constantly training new members — it was a new test platform, so everyone who was going to be onboard needed to be trained and qualified to ensure everyone would be safe. It was difficult because when we normally do developmental testing the boat is not an active boat, which was not the case here.”
The overall findings for the program proved to be effective and suitable for the fleet moving forward, although the final report is currently still in progress.
“We conducted testing with DHS oversight,” Huber said. “DHS used our data and findings to make final recommendations to the USCG program office. This effort required a large amount of collaboration between DHS, USCG program office, USCG active stations and Carderock. Each group had significant contribution to the success of the test program.”