Demonstration Explores Undersea Vehicle Transport

Barnhart was recently part of a demonstration at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) in Southern California involving vehicles that will probe the depths of the ocean.

The demonstration was part of a U.S. Navy project. According to a press release from the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, the Navy awarded a fabrication contract to Boeing in 2019 for five extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle prototypes — widely referred to as the Orca XLUUV.

To further the study of XLUUV prototype facilities capabilities on the West Coast, testing was scheduled at NBVC. The goal was to simulate the assembly, transportation and disassembly of the 85-foot-long, 90-ton undersea vehicle.

Photo: Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center video

A conceptual mockup was created to the dimensional specifications of a typical Orca. It comprised two 40-foot ISO containers, which acted as the vehicles’ separate halves. Barnhart was called in to provide the manpower and equipment — including single-propelled modular trailers (SPMTs) and a portable heavy-lift gantry system — to offload and transport the mockup.

The ISO containers were trucked in to NBVC. The Barnhart team offloaded each container from a flatbed truck with 500-ton gantries. The two containers were assembled under the gantries to the full length of the Orca prototype.

The day-long demonstration also included a travel test to ensure that the mock payload had the capability to maneuver through the existing facilities. Once the mock vehicle was fully assembled it was loaded onto two SPMTs. The SPMTs maneuvered the path from the assembly site, in and out of a maintenance building, to the wharf, back to the building and back to the site.

Upon their successful return, the containers were placed in a storage configuration to demonstrate XLUUV prototype dry storage when not in use, and then disassembled using the same equipment designated for the initial mock vehicle assembly.

The Orca XLUUV is among several undersea systems the Navy has been exploring. The first prototype is expected for delivery at NBVC in 2022.

About Meredith Portman

Meredith Portman is a freelance writer who specializes in heavy industry, healthcare and education.
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