USA: Vertical Launching System Modernization Procedures Established
Representatives from Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme and eight allied navies established common modernization and sustainment procedures for the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) April 7 in Port Hueneme, Calif.
The procedures reflect a unified strategic plan that enhances ship readiness and promotes collaboration among the U.S. Navy and the navies of Australia, Japan, Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and South Korea.
“Some of the systems purchased years ago by our allies are half-way through their ship’s life-cycle, and we are now focused on warfare center enterprise-wide supporting efforts to modernize the VLS” said Gerald Stutts, NSWC Port Hueneme launching systems project manager.
Participants at the Port Hueneme collaborative session also shared their experiences, issues, and lessons learned to enhance future VLS planning.
Each country’s modernization effort varies, from baseline upgrades to the addition of new missile capability, the addition of modules to increase missile carrying capability, or combat systems and launcher upgrades to add ballistic missile defense capability.
According to Stutts, the MK 41 VLS program has grown worldwide and is now in 12 countries on 92 ships with 17 different baseline configurations capable of launching eight different missiles.
The Australian navy is among the oldest users of the VLS system.
“Now that our ships have been in service for a while,” said Ron Robertson, MK 41 VLS test director from Australia, “our focus shifts to issues of mid-lifecycle and end of life-cycle. We have to think about removing systems, integrating them on new ships, modernization efforts, and upgrades.
Robertson said that because of these issues, planning for the future with U.S. technical experts is important.
“Through this collaborative international effort with our allies,” said Linda Roberts, deputy major program manager of international and FMS programs, “we are adhering to NAVSEA’s strategic plan by providing readiness to our fleet and our allies, yielding a powerful, joint maritime force.”
NSWC Port Hueneme Division, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, is located at Naval Base Ventura County. It is the Navy’s premier in-service engineering and logistics center and has been in existence for 50 years. NSWC Port Hueneme Division provides test and evaluation, in-service engineering, and integrated logistics support for weapon and combat systems installed in the United States Navy fleet, United States Coast Guard fleet, and many foreign navy fleets. Its focus is to provide safe, effective, and affordable weapon systems to surface ships.
Press Release, April 11, 2014; Image: Navy