The Navy said Tuesday that it conducted a ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremony for facilities that aim to be the focus of testing new unmanned surface and undersea vehicles.

Two facilities, located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Calif., will perform testing, evaluation and technology demonstration for the Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) and Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) prototypes. The ceremony occurred on Dec. 8. 

“These facilities will be the focal point of Navy learning and experimentation on the capabilities, operations and sustainment of Unmanned Maritime Vehicle prototypes to inform future programs,” Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), said in a statement Dec. 14.

Small’s office oversees the XLUUV, Large USV, Medium USV and their related advanced technology capabilities.

The ribbon-cutting portion of the ceremony marked the completion of modifications to the existing Littoral Combat Ship Mission Package Support Facility (Building 1392) that will house the XLUUV prototypes as well as personnel who will perform test, evaluation and training on the vehicles. 

Boeing [BA] is under contract to build five 54-inch diameter Orca XLUUVs to support mine countermeasures; anti-submarine warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) (Defense Daily, April 1, 2019).

The formerly DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program full-scale Sea Hunter demonstration vehicle, used for modeling as a Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV). (Photo: DARPA)

The ground-breaking part of the ceremony “recognized the start of construction of the modular administrative building for the newly established Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Squadron One personnel who will operate and maintain the unmanned vehicle prototypes,” the Navy said in a statement.

The Port Hueneme site is due to eventually become a hub for various experimental and prototype unmanned vessels. The five Orca XLUUV prototypes, one MUSV, two Sea Hunter USVs, and four Overlord USV prototypes are set to eventually be based at the site.

“NBVC is ideally suited for these facilities with ready access to open-water instrumented ranges, multimodal expeditionary transportation capabilities, proximity to Navy and industry hubs, and synergies with other tenant commands,” the Navy added.

Port Hueneme site allows the vessels to be nearby the Navy’s squadrons that experiment with unmanned systems, like Surface Development Squadron (SURFDEVRON) One. The Navy established SURFDEVRON One in 219 to focus on experimenting with new surface warfare capabilities for unmanned vessels and Zumwalt-class destroyers (Defense Daily, May 24, 2019).