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April 2002 Excerpt

Improved Navy Lighterage System


By Himatlal Garala

The Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) is comprised of powered and non-powered floating platforms assembled from interchangeable modular components. The INLS will support the Navy’s Logistics Over-the-Shore (LOTS) operations. The modules, in their assembled configurations, will be used to transfer cargo between strategic sealift ships and the shore. INLS will provide LOTS cargo throughput capacity through sea state 3 (SS3) in the most cost-effective manner and in the shortest reasonable time. The INLS requires full operation of all module assemblies in SS3 (threshold). The modules must endure SS4 with minimal damage and survive SS5, meaning repairable non-catastrophic damage.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Sealift Support Program Office, sponsors the composite INLS project. The project leader at NSWCCD is Himatlal Garala (6551).

NSWCCD is tasked to develop a 24-ft wide by 40-ft long composite flat-end module to be integrated with future INLS systems. This project follows a very accelerated, demanding schedule culminating in a successful demonstration. The use of composite materials for the main box portion of a larger, redesigned, flat-end module will meet the operational requirements, minimize corrosion, and reduce weight significantly. Improved steel connector system and module alignment devices are also being developed.

The flat-end module was developed and designed by the Structures and Composites Department at NSWCCD. The module is comprised of composite materials and new end connectors constructed of steel. A redesigned connector system having more tolerable dimensional requirements has been developed and features an automatic engagement mechanism. The new connector will improve personnel safety when the modules are connected together. A patent application has been filed for this new connector.

A contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in August 2001 to fabricate the composite module. NGSS was selected in a competitive procurement within the Composites Consortium under agreement between the Office of Naval Research and South Carolina Research Authority for Composite Manufacturing Technology. Three divisions of NNGS, the Full Service Center, Ingalls Shipbuilding and Avondale, make up the performance team. A single full-scale prototype module (40-ft x 24-ft x 8-ft) is being fabricated to validate the materials and fabrication process selected for module manufacturing. Fabrication of the module has been completed on schedule and within budget. The module arrived at NAVFAC’s Little Creek, Virginia, facility on March 27. The module was ready for display during a visit by the Under Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Dr. Dov Zakheim, and Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) on
March 26.

Operational tests to demonstrate that the module meets all program requirements are scheduled in April. Subsequently, NAVFAC plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for low-rate initial production (LRIP) in May 2002. A contract for LRIP will be awarded in November 2002. Operation and test evaluations will be conducted during FY 03 and FY 04 on the LRIP modules. An option for full-rate production can be exercised in FY 05. Total acquisition of this program through FY 09 is budgeted to about $1,000M.



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