Austal USA, the Navy and others celebrated the opening of the Navy’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE) in Danville, Va., yesterday.
The center will promote growth and resiliency of the Navy’s submarine industrial base through establishment and expansion of dedicated additive manufacturing and non-destructive testing (NDT) capabilities and other supporting technologies, the Navy said.
The event brought together governmental officials including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Department of Labor Assistant Secretary James Rodriguez, U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., Naval Sea Systems Commander, Vice Adm. William J. Galinis, and Program Executive Officer for Strategic Submarines, Rear Adm. Scott Pappano.
“It has been nearly 40 years since the United States recapitalized its ballistic missile submarine capability and infused equivalent volumes and complexity of work into the industrial base. At every level in the Navy’s industrial base…workforce, technology, and the space where those two converge…are an absolute requirement for success,” Matt Sermon, executive director for PEO Strategic Submarines, said in remarks during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “In cutting the ribbon today on the AM CoE, with partners like Austal USA and the other forward-leaning industry and academic leaders paving this path, we are securing our ability to innovate and execute faster and better than our adversaries, and that will be a fundamental differentiator in our future competitive landscape.”
Recognizing the compelling need to increase manufacturing capacity within the industrial base, the Navy established the AM CoE to design a “build-to-print” capability aimed at long lead time parts in order to achieve schedule adherence, build production reserves, and ultimately deliver Virginia and Columbia-class submarines to the nation, the Navy said.
To achieve this, the AM CoE will develop qualified part recipes that will transition to industry for serial production. A key aspect of the CoE is the consolidation of Navy-dedicated printing, NDT, and metrology capabilities under one roof. The center will also focus on exploiting AM for distributed production, working to bring new entrants to the submarine industrial base while also supporting forward-leaning casting foundries looking to adopt AM to bolster their production volume.
Austal USA will lead a consortium of AM experts at the CoE, providing program management and oversight of all developmental and production efforts. Consortium partners include Phillips, Industrial Inspection and Analysis, IALR (Institute for Advanced Learning and Research), FasTech, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, University of Virginia, and The Spectrum Group. Austal USA’s leadership in the AM CoE follows the company’s work with General Dynamics Electric Boat to recapitalize the Nation’s nuclear submarine fleet through the construction and outfitting of command and control systems modules and electronic deck modules.
“We recognize the recapitalization of our nation’s nuclear forces is the Navy’s highest acquisition priority and Austal USA is committed to working with our Navy customers and critical industry partners to build a supply chain and industrial base that is resilient, competitive, and sustainable,” said Austal USA president Rusty Murdaugh. “Through our serial production experience and as an advanced manufacturer, I’m confident our team will help build the capacity and capability that will continue to keep our warfighters ready.”
The CoE will execute end-to-end production and achieve full operational capability in late 2023.
The Navy’s AM CoE will be housed within the new Center for Manufacturing Advancement on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Va. In conjunction with the Department of Defense’s accelerated training in defense manufacturing program, the AM CoE will provide a platform for training a skilled AM and NDT workforce.