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    Navy Completes Large Transportation Demonstration of XLUUV Mockup at Naval Base Ventura County



    Story by Sarah Lincoln 

    Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center

    In 2019, the Navy competitively awarded a fabrication contract to The Boeing Company for five extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle (XLUUV) prototypes and associated support elements—widely referred to as the Orca XLUUV. The Orca XLUUV is among several undersea systems the Navy has been exploring over the past several years to meet the increasing demand for undersea operational awareness and payload delivery as part of a joint emergent operational need across the armed forces.

    To further the study of XLUUV capabilities on the west coast, PMS 406—or the Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office—tasked Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) to develop a technical solution for the assembly, transportation and disassembly of an 85-foot-long, 90-ton XLUUV at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in Southern California.

    A basing study conducted by PMS-406 reviewed three different basing locations stretching across the west coast to serve as the evaluation and Fleet training site for the XLUUV program. NBVC was a strong contender, offering key strategic features including port operations, Fleet presence and access points to the open Pacific Ocean. The launch site within the base’s wharf complex also faired advantageous in comparison to the other contending naval bases, along with recovery equipment onsite—including truck cranes—and accessibility to both shallow waters and a protected deep-water harbors armed with pier structures. In 2019, PMS-406 chose NBVC as the basing location for the XLUUV program.

    Indicated in tasking by PMS-406, NAVFAC EXWC developed a conceptual mock vehicle that simulates the dimensional specifications of a typical XLUUV. The mock vehicle—comprised of two 40-foot ISO containers—acted as the two separate XLUUV halves during a daylong demonstration at NBVC.

    Prior to the demonstration, NAVFAC EXWC thoroughly researched commercially available heavy-load handling and transportation equipment commonly used in the industry. Through their research, it was determined that the use of a single-propelled modular trailers (SPMT), used in conjunction with a portable heavy-lift gantry system (system that lifts and positions heavy loads where traditional cranes are not permitted), could satisfy all elements of the mock vehicle XLUUV.

    The travel path designated for the SPMT system transport demonstration—that included the assembly of the two mock vehicles—used the assembled containers from the original assembly site, in and out of a specified building in Port Hueneme, to the wharf, back to the specified building, and back to the assembly site. Upon returning to the assembly site, the containers were placed in a storage configuration, to demonstrate XLUUV dry storage when not in use, and then disassembled using the same equipment designated for the initial mock vehicle assembly.

    During the planning stages, NAVFAC EXWC contracted GPA Technologies to provide subcontracted services and equipment procurement of NAVFAC EXWC’s technical solution in an extremely prescribed manner. The government and contractor teams—made up of personnel from NAVFAC EXWC and GPA Technologies—spent a full day performing the mock vehicle demonstration at the end of February 2021.

    Government subcontractor Barnhart Crane & Rigging—a nationwide company specializing in lifting, heavy-rigging and heavy hauling—provided the manpower and non-commercial equipment needed for the mobilization, assembly and operation of the SPMT and heavy-lift gantry system. Aside from the demonstration, Barnhart Crane also had a stake in a number of other XLUUV mock payload demonstration initiatives—most importantly, the transportation of the XLUUV along the delineated travel path to the assembly site, and back from the assembly site.

    As the contract project manager for the demonstration, GPA Technologies provided oversight of Barnhart Crane’s performance, documented the demonstration, and developed a final report of the XLUUV mock payload demonstration’s findings.

    The execution of the demonstration encapsulated several benchmarks to ensure the feasibility that an XLUUV can be deployed from NBVC. This included ensuring the mock payload had the capability to maneuver through the existing facilities—roads, wharfs, and site lots. Throughout the demonstration, NAVFAC EXWC and onsite contractors adhered to the safety rules, regulations and guidelines outlined in the XLUUV demonstration execution plan, with portions derived from the ACOE EM-385 Safety guidelines, and the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The demonstration team performed daily safety briefings prior the demonstration each day, and ensured all personal protective equipment and project construction equipment was in top working condition—just as the Fleet would in a contested environment.

    After six months of intensive planning, the daylong XLUUV mock payload demonstration successfully fulfilled all the outlined benchmarks provided by PMS-406, confirming that the NAVFAC EXWC solution for the assembly, transportation and disassembly of an XLUUV can be adapted at NBVC.

    As the fabrication of the Orca XLUUV continues to develop, efforts are underway to establish temporary facilities, building improvements and Fleet support at NBVC to accommodate XLUUVs, test equipment and personnel who will work onsite and perform initial prototype testing evaluation and training on vehicles. The first XLUUV prototype is expected for delivery at NBVC in 2022.

    About Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC):

    NAVFAC EXWC is a command of more than 1,300 dedicated federal employees, contractors, and military personnel who provide science, research, development, test, and evaluation, specialized engineering, and mobile logistics capabilities to deliver sustainable facility and pragmatic expeditionary solutions to the warfighter.




    Date Taken: 06.03.2021
    Date Posted: 06.03.2021 15:48
    Story ID: 398086
    Location: PORT HUENEME, CA, US

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