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$11M to Boost Ship Tech and Training

Friday, January 2, 2015

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Extensive laser peening, better training and a whole lot more robots appear headed for shipbuilding and maintenance crews in 2015, fueled by more than $11 million in new funding from the National Shipbuilding Research Program.

NSRP announced the new round of awards Dec. 22 as part of its mission to reduce the cost of shipbuilding and repair. The five projects were selected from those proposed in response to a June research announcement.

The projects are:

  • Laser Peening of Ship Structures to Reduce Production Costs;
  • Learning and Development Innovation;
  • SpARky (Reducing Wiring Cost Using 3D Model and Augmented Reality);
  • Lifecycle Integrated Data Environment (LCIDE); and
  • Computer-Aided Robotics Welding (CAR-W).
Photos: NSRP

A 24-month training project by Ingalls Shipbuilding will receive $751,000.

More than half of the award —$6.1 million in all—will support the robotics welding research, to catch up the United States to its shipbuilding competitors in other countries, officials say.

Brief summaries of each project from NSRP follow.

Laser Peening of Ship Structures

Team: Hepburn & Sons, LLC | William Porter; Global Shift LLC; Penn State ARL; Curtiss-Wright Surface Technologies; Ingalls Shipbuilding

Investment: $425,000 (industry); $844,000 (NSRP)

The goal of this 27-month project is to transfer a "cost-saving and quality-enhancing technology" from the aerospace industry to shipbuilding. The vision is "to demonstrate the superiority of laser peening over select current shipbuilding processes in specific applications."


The 27-month laser peening research takes a page from practices now in use in the aerospace industry.

Laser peening (also known as laser shock peening) is a surface engineering process that imparts a layer of beneficial residual compressive stress underneath a metal surface to increase its resistance to surface-related failures such as fatigue and stress corrosion cracking.

Learning and Development Innovation

Team: Ingalls Shipbuilding

Investment: $381,000 (industry); $370,000 (NSRP)

This 24-month project aims to develop and demonstrate the tools needed to facilitate improved craft on-the-job training, improve management skills of new craft managers, and improve corporate memory retention during the transition to the current workforce.


Team: Electric Boat | Bath Iron Works

Investment: $560,000 (industry); $560,000 (NSRP)


The 18-month SpARky project aims to reduce electrical labor costs during construction.

The primary goal of this 18-month project is to use 3D CAD modeling and Augmented Reality to reduce the touch labor costs of wiring electrical components during construction.

Lifecycle Integrated Data Environment

Team: Newport News Shipbuilding | Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software

Investment: $1.1 million (industry); $979,000 (NSRP)

This 24-month project aims s to build a shipbuilding data environment to improve customer access to OEM technical data needed to support Service Lifecycle Management and assist the Navy in moving from a "drawing-centric" to a "data-centric" environment.


LCIDE aims to make the Navy less "drawing-centric" and more "data-centric."

The project team will:

  • Develop a common graphical user interface for all stakeholders;
  • Develop a user-friendly portal for the Navy and stakeholders;
  • Provide an integrated data environment as a single source for accessing OEM data; and
  • Provide a framework for security access and configuration control of selected ship data.

Computer-Aided Robotics Welding

Team: Bollinger Shipyards | Ingalls Shipbuilding |NSWCCD | ShipConstructor Software| Wolf Robotics | Edison Welding Institute | Purdue University| Colorado State University | Tony Maciejewski | Longview Advisors


The $6.1 million CAR-W aims to close the United States' "widening gap" with non-U.S. shipbuilders in robotic welding automation.

Investment: $2.7 million (industry); $3.4 million (NSRP)

This 24-month effort is focused on closing "the widening gap in the use of robotic welding automation versus foreign shipbuilders."

Team members pledge "a major step toward solving ‘THE’ critical bottleneck to the application of robotic welding technologies"—shifting from manual offline to CAR programming.

More information is available at NSRP's site or by emailing the NSRP team.


Tagged categories: Corrosion protection; Maintenance programs; National Shipbuilding Research Program; Newport News Shipbuilding; North America; Program/Project Management; Robotics; Steel; Worker training

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