KEYPORT, Wa. (NNS) -- A team of eight engineers and logisticians from the NUWC Division Newport (NUWC) Division, Keyport spent two weeks in the field at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, helping the Marines assess new technologies during the Fight the Naval Force Forward Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (FNFF ANTX) July 9-19.
The team observed and evaluated technologies intended to help the Marine Corps in a variety of missions, including command and control, logistics, autonomous vehicles, communications and force protection.
During the first week, the NUWC Division, Keyport team inspected and learned about each of the new technologies being prototyped. Some of these prototypes include the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (C-USV), a Marine all-terrain vehicle known as MRZR, which can be loaded with high bandwidth communications or anti-drone technologies, delivery systems for laying down temporary roadways or airports for vehicles up to 150 tons and, finally, a shipping container loaded with 3D printers to make parts needed by Marines in combat.
Laura Mortimore, a member of the NUWC Division, Keyport Non-Traditional Programs Office said she believes the FNFF ANTX exercise was an important step in increasing the seed with which the Navy-Marine Corps team can obtain new and innovative technologies.
“I think the ANTX is important because it has the potential to significantly speed up the acquisition process,” said Mortimore. “I will be able to use what I learned here to write more relevant proposals for project funding.”
The team was able to observe these technologies being utilized during integrated scenarios during the second week of the ANTX exercise.
One scenario involved a vehicle developer sending an electronic file to the 3D print lab, which then printed the part in under an hour. The demonstration included an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being launched at sea from an Office of Naval Research (ONR) demonstration vessel to the shore to retrieve the 3D-printed part, and then flying it to a landing zone where Marine Light Assault Vehicles (LAVs) had established security around a prototype modular UAV landing pad. An LAV then took the part to the inoperable vehicle, and restored it to operational readiness.
Ryan Liem-Salim, a Mechanical Engineer with NUWC Division, Keyport’s Undersea Test, Resources, Planning and Coordination Division found the time in North Carolina to be of definite benefit. He said the experience provided an eye-opening insight into the level of stress the Marines place on equipment being tested.
“ANTX has provided a wealth of knowledge that can only be taught by attending one,” said Liem-Salim. “Marines will take your one and only prototype, that your team has spent countless hours on, and who knows how much money, and shake it. Be ready for that!”
One reason the NUWC Division, Keyport team attended FNFF ANTX was to give the technology developers a chance to see how warfighters in the field operate.
“ANTX will help Keyport – and my performance – by fixing the focus on the needs of the warfighter,” said Caeleigh Villarreal, a NUWC Division, Keyport logistician. “The best gadget is only a door stop if a Marine won’t use it.”
The presence of the team was a critical part of NUWC Division, Keyport’s efforts to uphold Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Campaign Plan 2.0, the strategic vision laid out by NAVSEA for all its subordinate commands to follow. Having the NUWC Division, Keyport team on the ground enabled them to better fulfill the Campaign Plan 2.0 goals of nimbly improving the warfighting capability of ships and systems while upholding a culture of affordability by finding ways to meet the warfighter’s needs faster and with less expense.
The final day of the exercise saw evaluation of the projects by senior Navy and Marine Corps officials, including James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Gen. Gary Thomas, Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps and Eric Gillespie, NUWC Division, Keyport’s Deputy Technical Director.
Thomas said the new Commandant is hard at work developing a Concept of Operations, and said he was “very grateful to everyone for coming from across the country” to facilitate that development.
Secretary Guerts summed up the importance of the ANTX saying, “there’s nothing that can’t be solved with the right people in the room with a sense of purpose and humility.”