USA: Team Submarine, NUWC Keyport Delivers MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo Software Upgrade

Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Program Executive Officer for Submarines, authorized the release of the latest software build for the MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo, Jan. 13.  Nine days later, and due to the teamwork exhibited by the Torpedo Enterprise, all MK54 torpedoes deployed in the 5th Fleet received the upgrade and are warshot ready.

The new software, or Block Upgrade, addresses a potential capability gap and was developed under a 5th Fleet Urgent Operational Needs (UON) statement. Nine days after Johnson’s authorization, the Navy’s Torpedo Enterprise completed upgrades to 5th Fleet assets deployed with MK54 torpedoes and ensured all were war-shot ready.

“Getting the right capability in the hands of the warfighters on the front line as quickly as possible is our objective every day,” said Capt. Tom Kearney, Undersea Weapons program manager.  “In only 15 months from receiving the demand signal, we modified hardware; produced software; tested on land and in the water; made sure it worked as intended and did not have any glitches; and then got it out to the Fleet and loaded on currently-deployed weapons.  That we were able to complete the effort within our time- and budget-constraints is a true testament to the Torpedo Enterprise and our dedication to getting the best possible weapons to our deployed sailors.”

Johnson highlighted open architecture as an attributing factor for the rapid delivery of the new capability.

With our open-architectured systems, including our combat, weapons control, sonar, and imagining systems, we are now able to literally hand carry new capabilities to the Fleet.  For torpedoes, it is as simple as plugging in a laptop and loading the new software into the weapons.  What used to require years was accomplished in less than a year-and-a-half to design and build; and only nine days to field to our warfighters.”

More than a dozen organizations came together on the MK 54 software upgrade effort, including the Undersea Weapons Program Office, Naval Undersea Warfare Divisions Keyport and Newport, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Surface and Naval Sea Systems Command Undersea Warfare Directorates, Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation, Fleet Forces Command, and others.

“The combined work of government experts and our industry partners who identified problems, implemented solutions, tested and installed the solutions is a prime example of how people throughout the Navy are committed to supporting our sailors and Fleet,” said Jim Van Antwerp, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport’s technical director.  “Pooling resources and brain power truly leads to more effective solutions.”

The MK 54 torpedo is a hybrid surface-ship and air-launched anti-submarine weapon combining the MK 46 Lightweight torpedo’s propulsion system and explosive train with the MK 50 Lightweight torpedo’s sonar section, and a new design guidance and control system.  The MK 54 reached Initial Operational Capability in 2004 and will replace all MK 46 and MK 50 torpedoes in the coming years.

NUWC Keyport is a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) providing advanced technical capabilities for test and evaluation, in-service engineering, maintenance and industrial base support, fleet material readiness, and obsolescence management for undersea warfare.  Team Submarines provides improved communication among the various offices that contribute to the overall success of the U.S. Navy’s submarine force, and is comprised of Program Executive Office, Submarines; and NAVSEA’s Undersea Warfare  and Undersea Technology Deputy Commander.

Naval Today Staff , February 03, 2012;

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