Naval Undersea Warfare Center
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 27 2021
Release #2145 Point of Contact—Jeffrey Prater (401) 832-2039
NUWC Division Newport, 401 Tech Bridge partner on waterside security Prize Challenge
by NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s Northeast Tech Bridge and the 401 Tech Bridge have announced its second Prize Challenge, “Unmanned Surface Vehicle for Waterside Security,” which seeks the creation of an expeditionary unmanned surface vehicle (USV) for security in harbors and ports. There is a $50,000 prize associated with the challenge that is open to domestic and international technology companies.
Dr. Steve Bordonaro, director of the Northeast Tech Bridge, and Christian Schumacher, technical program manager for Division Newport’s Argus Maritime Defense Systems, discussed the details of the Prize Challenge at the 401 Tech Bridge’s new facility in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, on July 14.
The U.S. Navy is seeking a USV that is modular and “attritable,” meaning that the vehicle should be low in cost with an ability to be reused several times with minimal maintenance. Because the need is for an expeditionary vehicle, the USV must be produced or assembled at the point of use, in less than two hours, and be capable of carrying or towing a variety of payloads. The USV must be able to be shipped in a 20-foot shipping container and provide the flexibility needed for various mission support.
The Division Newport team displayed a towed array cable, a net-launching device and bathymetric equipment to help company representatives visualize the payload requirements of the vehicle. They also addressed a variety of technical questions from the audience.
This is a theoretical challenge that requires only a written proposal to be evaluated by a team at Division Newport. In addition to a cash award of $50,000, this Prize Challenge will serve as a source selection for a potential follow-on Other Transaction Prototype in an amount up to $1 million. Proposals can be from individuals, companies or academic teams, or be a collaboration among those parties.
The 401 Tech Bridge, a nonprofit entity in Rhode Island and business unit of the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, serves as a super-connector for companies that are developing leading-edge advanced materials, technologies and products. The 401 Tech Bridge has a partnership agreement with Division Newport to support the Northeast Tech Bridge, increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation by connecting Navy and industry technical problems to companies, universities and innovation partners.
One of the main features of the 401 Tech Bridge partnership is its assistance with setting up Prize Challenges like these. Division Newport’s first Prize Challenge seeking 3D-printed hand wheels on ships, closed on July 13. [link - https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Media/News/SavedNewsModule/Article/2671800/prize-challenge-aims-to-develop-rapid-design-tool-for-handwheel-parts-on-ships/]
“These Prize Challenges are a way to crowd source a solution to a Navy problem with a rapid timeline for a response, an evaluation, and money going to companies who best meet the Navy’s requirements,” Bordonaro said.
The cash awards for Prize Challenges help engage non-traditional problem-solvers.
“As a technical program manager, one of my challenges is finding the time and money for innovation — to figure out ways to further enhance our system,” Schumacher said. “This is my first time participating in a Prize Challenge and it’s great to have some help in this area. I’m looking forward to seeing what the participants submit.”
Lee Silvestre, coordinator of the NavalX Northeast Tech Bridge, said the 401 Tech Bridge can help technical program managers work with non-traditional companies or individual innovators because they have those contacts in place.
“They can help develop and administer the challenge,” Silvestre said. “They also help with the contacts aspect and with the evaluation.”
“The Navy is always looking for good ideas and we’re interested in connecting with industry and academia,” Bordonaro said. “The Tech Bridges provide an excellent way to make these projects happen.”
The Prize Challenge closes on Sept. 13 and additional details can be found at challenge.gov and 401TechBridge.org/funding-opportunities.
If you are a Navy program manager with funding to solve a technical challenge, reach out to the Northeast Tech Bridge at NWPT.NUWC_NPT_NE_TECH_BRIDGE@navy.mil
NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.
NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.
Christian Cowan (from left), executive director of the 401 Tech Bridge, Dr. Steve Bordonaro, director of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport’s Northeast Tech Bridge and Christian Schumacher, technical program manager for Division Newport’s Argus Maritime Defense Systems, share the details of the “Unmanned Surface Vehicle for Waterside Security” Prize Challenge at the 401 Tech Bridge’s facility in Portsmouth Rhode Island, on July 14, 2021. The $50,000 challenge is open for submissions until Sept. 13, 2021. (Photo courtesy 401 Tech Bridge)