U.S. Navy Hosts Virtual Industry Day for Hammerhead Program

The U.S. Navy hosted a virtual industry day in April for the service’s new Hammerhead program seeking to develop a maritime mine deployment system.

The Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC) hosted the event pressing forward with the PEO’s mission priorities in spite of COVID-19 restrictions to discuss the requirements for the program.

Sixteen companies participated in the industry day event. The day’s objective was to improve the industry’s understanding of the Mine Warfare Program Office (PMS 495)’s Hammerhead program and accelerate the design, development, and production of the system.

The industry day, noted PEO USC Rear Adm. Casey Moton, should “stress the importance of the program to the fleet – they want it today, they need it today. … We’re still going to deliver the mission-essential capability, so it’s important that we proceed.”

Moton said the Hammerhead program is designated both a Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping Program and a Navy Maritime Accelerated Acquisition, reflecting the urgent need for the capability the system promises to bring.

The government intends to post the final Hammerhead prototype solicitation later this year. Industry will have approximately four weeks to submit a full proposal for Hammerhead prototypes. Award of a design and test contract for an expected quantity of up to 30 prototypes is anticipated in fiscal year 2021, with the delivery of operationally relevant prototypes by the end of the fiscal year 2023.

According to a presolicitation notice issued last month, the Hammerhead is a moored-torpedo variant mine system for intermediate to deep depths that has the capability to detect, classify, and defeat Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) targets.

The system can be deployed from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to provide overt or clandestine standoff delivery of multiple mines. The effector on the system is a Mark 54 lightweight torpedo which is released to acquire and engage ASW targets.

The conceptual physical configuration of the Hammerhead system consists of a capsule module (to include the MK 54 lightweight torpedo effector); a mooring module; an energy module; a sensor module; a command, control, signal processing and decision module; and a communications module; as well as associated support facilities and equipment and shipping containers.

U.S. Navy Hammerhead Concept
A notional representation of the U.S. Navy’s Hammerhead moored-torpedo variant maritime mine deployment system. The capsule module contains an MK 54 lightweight torpedo (U.S. Navy Photo)

The system is conceptually designed to be organic and modular; minimum modular components include the capsule module, energy module, mooring module, and the effector.

The effector (Mark 54 lightweight torpedo) is a non-developmental item that the Hammerhead program will integrate with the rest of the mine system to provide the required capability.

MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo
An exercise MK 54 Mod 0 Torpedo is launched from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

Mark 60 CAPTOR

The Hammerhead concept looks similar to the Mark 60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) system earlier used by the U.S. Navy. It uses a Mark 46 lightweight ASW torpedo contained in an aluminum shell that is anchored to the ocean floor.

The system can be placed by either aircraft, submarine or surface vessel and, once placed, can last anywhere from weeks to months underwater. Once a target identified, the torpedo leaves its casing to destroy its target.

Mark 60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) Anti-Submarine Mine
A Mark 60 CAPTOR (encapsulated torpedo) anti-submarine mine. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russ Pollanen.
Moored mine with torpedo concept
Concept of a moored mine equipped with a torpedo. (Source: Internet).

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