NUWC Newport Dedicates New Research Facility
- Cutting the ribbon, from left, Dominic Galluci, P&S Construction; RI Congressman James Langevin; RI Governor Lincoln Chafee; Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, commander, NUWC; Capt. Todd Cramer, commander, NUWC Division Newport; Mark Rodrigues, head NUWC's Platform and Payload Integration Department; Blair Decker, General Dynamics/Electric Boat; and RI Senator Jack Reed.
- From left: RI Governor Lincoln Chafee; Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, commander, NUWC; Mark Rodrigues, head NUWC's Platform and Payload Integration Department; RI Senator Jack Reed, and RI Congressman James Langevin.
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport dedicated a new $24.9 million Virginia Payload Tube Facility (VPTF) with a ribbon cutting today, Wednesday, October 15. The ceremony was followed by an opportunity for businesses with an interest in the technology to tour the facility and learn about its capabilities.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, U.S. Senator Jack Reed and U.S. Congressman James Langevin attended the ceremony.
“Since forming the Torpedo Station on Goat Island, [NUWC] has been the center of cutting-edge research of undersea technologies,” Reed said. “NUWC Newport continues to make Rhode Island the premier state for the test and evaluation of submarines, torpedoes, and unmanned undersea vehicles.”
The Virginia Payload Tube (VPT) is part of a new design in Virginia-class submarines. The VPT is capable of housing various payloads and weapons that can be rapidly interchanged. North Dakota (SSN 784), scheduled for commissioning later this month, is the first submarine to be equipped with the VPT. Unlike the first 10 Virginia-class submarines that housed 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles in individual vertical launch system (VLS) tubes, all Virginia-class submarines beginning with North Dakota will utilize two VPTs to house and launch the same number of missiles.
“This facility will push the envelope of the wide variety of crucial at-sea support where lives and missions are at stake,” said Langevin. “This facility will allow us to innovate while maintaining support for the fleet. I’m proud that emerging technologies are being tested in Rhode Island and at this facility. NUWC is a national asset and a regional leader. The region is a complete ecosystem for undersea capabilities.”
Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, commander of NUWC, served as the Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Virginia Class Program Manager, PMS 450, at the time that the VPTF was conceived and funded.
“I recognized the necessity and wisdom of having a land-based Virginia Payload Tube Facility for training and development, “said Jabaley. “NAVSEA and the Program Executive Office for submarines made a significant investment that resulted in less risk, lower costs, and accelerated transition to the warfighter.”
NUWC’s new facilityhouses not only the VPT centerpiece, but all of the ship’s systems that support the VPT in actual ship configuration, thereby allowing replication of ship functionality. This ship-like capability will provide engineers and technicians with the land-based ability to mimic, troubleshoot, and discover the proper repairs required to resolve fleet issues without impacting submarine availability. The state-of-the-art facility also augments the capability to integrate future large payloads.
The facility will allowdefense contractors to directly partner with the NAVSEA subject matter experts on weapon systems in support of end-to-end submarine payload integration.
“The strategic benefit includes more cost-effective test and evaluation of advanced payloads. It also provides unprecedented end-to-end system testing,” said Jabaley. “It’s also an opportunity for industry to use the facility if they have innovative ideas as this payload tube facility cannot be replicated elsewhere.”
“This facility will help define future payloads for future mission yet to be imagined,” said Capt. Todd Cramer, commander of NUWC Division Newport. “It’s exciting to peer into the future and imagine the potential impact the Virginia Payload Tube Facility will have on the undersea battlespace.”
The $22.5 million, 95,000-pound launch tube section and supporting ships systems were directly funded by NAVSEA’s PMS 450 and were designed, fabricated and installed by General Dynamics, Electric Boat.
Modifications to the existing Platform and Payload Integration Lab to allow installation and support operation of the payload tube facility required raising a 2700-square-foot section of roof in the northwest corner of the building from 35 to 62 feet. This effort was accomplished by way of a $2.4 million construction project, designed by Fay, Spofford and Thorndike LLC, of Burlington, Mass., constructed by P&S Construction of North Chelmsford, Mass., and administered by the Naval Engineering Facilities Command (NAVFAC) for Naval Station Newport.
NUWC Newport is one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. NUWC Newport’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures.