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April 2012 Issue

Navy Awards Contract Funding for FY 2012 LCS
The U.S. Navy in March awarded $715 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. (Bethesda, Maryland) and $691 million to Austal USA (Mobile, Alabama) to fund the construction of two LCS per company for fiscal year (FY) 2012. The ships will be LCS nine through 12 and be built at Marinette Marine Corp. (Marinette, Wisconsin) and Austal USA.

This is the third funding increment for each company under the block buy contracts, awarded December 2010, which are for the design and construction of up to 10 LCS. The contracts also provide for the acquisition of up to 20 LCS from FY 2010 through FY 2015.

“We are continuing to execute the dual award strategy for these ships,” RAdm. James Murdoch, LCS program executive officer, said. “Efforts to stabilize design, improve production planning, invest in shipbuilder improvements and leverage long-term vendor agreements all within the framework of a competitive fixed-priced contract have returned this program to the level of affordability necessary for the Navy to move forward with construction at efficient rates in support of the 55-ship LCS requirement.”


NRL to Develop Autonomous Firefighting Robot
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is developing a humanoid robot that could fight fires on the next-generation of ships and submarines. The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), announced in March by the NRL, will have enhanced multimodal sensor technology for navigation; a sensor suite with a camera, gas sensor and stero infrared camera for seeing through smoke; an upper body capable of manipulating fire suppressors and throwing extinguisher grenades; a 30-minute battery life for firefighting; the ability to walk in all directions, balance in sea conditions and traverse obstacles; and the ability to understand and respond to human cues and gestures.

The NRL, which opened its Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research in March, is working with Virginia Tech and University of Pennsylvania researchers on SAFFiR. Testing is planned onboard the ex-USS Shadwell in September 2013.


Successful Robotic Fluids Transfer Demonstration
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has successfully demonstrated the robotic fluids transfer from a stationary platform to an unmanned surface vessel, the laboratory said in March. The Rapid Autonomous Fuel Transfer (RAFT) is able to track the motion of a Sea Fox naval vessel, emplace a magnetic refueling fitting to an onboard refueling receptacle and complete fluids transfer. Engineers performed approximately 60 trial refueling attempts in sea states ranging from calm to wave heights greater than 3 feet at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center wave simulator facility.

The NRL was the lead robotics integrator and designer of the robotics system. It also worked with Clemson University, SAIC (McLean, Virginia) and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command on RAFT.


Mabus Discusses Green Energy Initiatives
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus testified in March on the reasoning behind the service’s renewable energy initiatives, namely, financial health and operational efficiency, as well as recent progress.

Mabus spoke at a hearing, called by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) of the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power, in March onboard the USS Kearsarge in Norfolk, Virginia.

Among the initiatives he discussed was advancing the production or consumption of 1 gigawatt of renewable energy generation on or near the Navy’s installations by using existing third-party financing, such as power purchase agreements, joint ventures and enhanced use leases.

Responding to criticism of the Navy’s spending on alternative energy, Mabus also commented on the Navy’s $510 million plan to help create a domestic, commercially viable biofuels industry in collaboration with the departments of Agriculture and Energy.

“We also can’t afford to be distracted by those who offer the false choice of investing in ships and planes or investing in more secure means of powering those platforms,” Mabus said. “If we do not have or cannot afford the energy to power those platforms, the platforms themselves may be of little value.”

Shaheen voiced support for the Navy’s alternative energy programs. “When our military improves the way it uses energy, it gives us a strategic advantage and strengthens our national security. The less beholden our troops are to fuel supply lines, the less vulnerable they are in the field. The more efficient their battery packs are, the more time they have to complete the mission. The Navy has set the pace for improvements in energy use.”


2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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