Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council Navy League of the US

Sept 7: NUWC Keyport Tour

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SEPT 7, 2017 | KEYPORT TOUR: The Keyport Tour was arranged by Dr. Byron Faber for the Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Navy Leaguers on September 7th, 2017. We met at the Undersea Museum parking lot under the surrealistic orange sun resulting from the numerous forest fires in Eastern Washington. The tour started at Keyport Headquarters where we were given a very informative command overview of NAVSEA by Capt. Doug LaCoste, Keyport USN Commanding Officer. He explained that there are ten warfare centers located across the United States, Japan and Guam, each location with a focused specialty. Keyport’s mission is on developing and applying advanced technical capabilities to test, evaluate and maintain undersea warfare systems. President Trump is the Commander in Chief of all military operations.

One focus of Keyport is the development of lightweight torpedoes used in aircraft and heavyweight torpedoes use for submarines. Gone are the days of Sea Hunt technology using depth charges. Today’s torpedoes are tracked with three dimensional imaging and acoustic sensors, and designed with target directed capabilities. All Naval undersea weapons and parts must be made domestically made for security reasons.

Special mention was made regarding the Navy’s partnership with Olympic College for career opportunities and advanced degree programs. The Navy also partners with Penn State, the University of Washington and Applied Physics Laboratory. Visit Olympic College and inquire about engineering programs associated with the US Navy.

We visited three shop locations at the Keyport Naval Facility that focus on research, development and testing. The first stop was at the Weapons Sonar Test Facility building which houses an enormous tank in which lightweight torpedoes are tested for sonar acoustic accuracy. The testing involves precise and specific torpedo maneuvers before being tested in the field.

The second stop was the Innovation Lab which is involved in maintenance operations and engineering such as robotics, 3D printing, rapid cast technology and laser cutting. One example of time saving technology involves the repair of helicopter roto blades. Roto blade repair is important because damaged blades emit of whopping pitch that can be heard from a distance, making a stealth helicopter detection-vulnerable. In the past, roto blade repair would require hand sanding but now laser sanding cuts time and labor costs.

Although, 3D printers cost about $500K, the technology can result in significant cost savings in the long run. A helicopter part that in the past had been a machined part, is now created using 3D technology. The machined part had a seam and when hit directly on the seam the part would split.  3D printing allows the part to be replicated without a seam which increases durability. To create a tangible form, the 3D compartment is heated to 358 degrees, the melting point of nylon. Then the printer can build a part or a tool, layer by layer at a rate of an inch per hour. The application for 3D printers is the ability to create parts and tools without sending them out to another warfare center which saves time and money.

The third stop was at the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) Maintenance Center. The scope of this facility is to develop small, medium and large UUV’s to ‘put stuff instead of people in the undersea vehicle’ and designed to perform a wide array of tasks.

The Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council Navy League wants to extend their appreciation to Keyport for their outstanding tour reviewing torpedo maintenance, weapons and combat development. The tour also provided a view of Keyport and other NAVSEA Warfare centers showcasing the world class team of professionals that comprise the US Navy and civilian personnel. Also special thanks to Kristin Carver and Wendy Miles for their assistance to make our visit possible. For more info visit www.navsea.navy.mil. By Chris Stephens, BOPC Navy League.

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