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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2023

NAVSEA Executive Director tours NUWC Division Newport on Jan. 30

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Executive Director Giao Phan visited NUWC Division Newport on Jan. 30 for tours that highlighted the organization’s advanced undersea warfare capabilities, yet also created moments of nostalgia.

“This is really amazing,” Phan said during a tour of the Electromagnetic Sensor Facility. “It brings back a lot of memories.”

As she explained, those memories harken back to her time as the manager of electromagnetic systems for the Seawolf-class fast attack submarine program and a visit to the NUWC detachment in New London, Connecticut. When the New London facility closed in 1995 because of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), much of its work — including on periscopes — was transferred to Division Newport.

“Ms. Phan vividly remembered her prior exposure to periscopes and expressed a genuine appreciation toward what we are doing here in this facility in support of the fleet,” said Joe Clement, a technical program manager (TPM), and periscope and imaging in-service engineering agent (ISEA) in the Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department, who guided the tour of the facility.

Division Newport’s critical efforts in support of the fleet were on display throughout the day.  Stops on the tour included a discussion with Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings and Technical Director Ron Vien, the Combat Control Systems Department laboratories, Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Laboratory, Submarine Ocean Interface Test Facilities, Weapons Analysis Facility, Towed Systems Complex and Underwater Sound Reference Division (USRD). The tour concluded with a discussion about Division Newport’s special emphasis programs overseen by the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

“Ms. Phan’s visit was a great opportunity for us to showcase the depth and breadth of our technical work in the undersea domain,” Vien said. “It was clear that she was interested in our work by the number of thought-provoking questions asked throughout the tour. Our lunch with leadership was a great opportunity for her to gain an understanding of the technical and business initiatives we’re pursuing to improve warfighting capability and readiness.

“At the end of the day, I felt she came away with a much better understanding of the important role Division Newport performs in advancing the state of the art in undersea warfare through our research, development and fleet support. It was a great visit.”

Phan began her U.S. Navy civil service career in 1984 and has held numerous leadership positions managing development and integration programs. In December 2020 she was selected to serve as NAVSEA’s executive director. In this Senior Executive Service (SES) role, she provides executive leadership to more than 85,000 military and civilian personnel across the globe who execute the research, development, acquisition, maintenance, modernization, and inactivation of the Navy’s battle force and most major combat and hull, mechanical, and electrical systems.

Donna Sullivan, SES, who assumed the responsibilities of NAVSEA deputy commander/comptroller in December 2022, joined her on the tour. She previously was in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), where she was responsible for the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) investment funded, air, space and intelligence programs.

Phan’s stop at the Electromagnetic Sensor Facility brought more than just memories, though, as she and Sullivan saw how the facility supports the fleet’s operational readiness.

The facility serves as the foundation for systems design, prototyping, acquisition and production support, maintenance and repair, and in-service engineering troubleshooting and analysis. These capabilities are critical in developing and maintaining electromagnetic and communications systems that deliver technological superiority to the Navy. The work performed here is unique not just nationally, but globally.

Similarly, the USRD is a facility distinct to Division Newport that provides services that cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

The USRD serves as the U.S. standardizing activity in the area of underwater acoustic measurements, as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides in other areas. The USRD was named an official Designated Institute (DI) for “Acoustics: Sound in Water” by NIST in 2019.

The USRD is the Navy's primary activity for underwater acoustic calibration, test and evaluation measurements. In this role, the USRD maintains specialized measurement facilities with the capacity to simulate real-world ocean environments. It also maintains transducer standards to help ensure the accuracy of measurements made at both USRD and elsewhere.

At the Undersea Warfare Combat Control Systems Department laboratories, Matt O’Connell, director, Program Management Office, explained the different type of work done in the department, including its key role in cybersecurity and platform integration.

“The Combat Systems Department is a full-spectrum operation providing science and technology, research and development, and fleet support,” O’Connell said. “We have a very diverse portfolio of customers across multiple system commands.”

During another stop on the tour, Christopher DelMastro, head of the Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department, and Jim Broadmeadow, head of the Ocean Interfaces Division in that department, detailed some of the payload launcher systems on-site at Division Newport.

These to-scale submarine land-based testing facilities allow Division Newport engineers and scientists to evaluate the performance of existing and developmental payloads and weapons systems in a laboratory environment that is truly submarine platform representation. These facilities ensure the fleet has the weapon, launch and handling systems  it needs and that they operate every time as they are intended, but also provide tremendous cost-saving benefits to the Navy by leveraging this land-based integration and test infrastructure.

“This is very impressive,” Phan said.

In the UUV Laboratory, Phan received briefings on the various small-, medium-, large- and extra large-diameter UUVs under Division Newport’s auspices. This included state-of-the-art technical initiatives like the Snakehead LDUUV, as well as information on the core technologies for these systems. Presenters also described the department’s partnerships with the Defense Advanced research Projects Agency (DARPA) and local industry for capabilities and commercially-available technologies to integrate with its products.

The UUV Laboratory is a land-based facility that includes resources to perform software, processor and hardware-in-the-loop development, integration and testing of UUVs to include the integration and test of custom payloads. The facility supports staging for in-water testing and demonstrations with multiple secure networks, data exfiltration, analysis, modeling and simulation capabilities to exercise autonomous behavior development and testing. The facility maintains a test tank for fully assembled UUV system testing, battery endurance testing and ballasting. The team maintains and operates remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) for the purpose of equipment and UUV recovery, inspection, submerged reacquire and identification of contacts.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) for Research, Development and Acquisition (RDA) designated the Snakehead LDUUV as an Accelerated Acquisition, Maritime Accelerated Capability Office (MACO) effort and managed by the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Unmanned and Small Combatant (USC).

“As government lead system integrator, NUWC Division Newport led the design, development, integration and testing to deliver the Snakehead LDUUV with an integrated intelligence preparation of the operational environment mission payload,” DelMastro said. “The team worked to inform and mitigate risk of future acquisitions by accomplishing many firsts for the Navy in materials certification for use on submarine, lithium-ion battery certification and LDUUV launch and recovery into Navy submarines.”

At the Towed Systems Complex, Sensors and Sonar Systems Department employees gave an in-depth explanation of all the fleet support activities. Tony Paolero, head of the Sensors and Arrays Division, detailed the different components and functions of submarine and surface ship towed arrays, handler systems and advanced development efforts. This includes the platforms on which they operate, as well as what the future holds for these systems. 

The Towed Systems Complex supports the full spectrum of science and technology, advanced development, and in-service engineering of submarines and surface ships towed arrays — used for submarine and surface ship range and detection — and advanced development and towed array handling systems. This facility supports Virginia-, 688i- and Columbia-class submarines. The facility is used for fabrication, test and evaluation, repair and refurbishment of towed sensor array modules, as well as advanced development prototypes, fleet sensors and fleet training — operation and maintenance — on submarine and surface ship towed array systems.

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.