Huntington Ingalls buys underwater vehicles specialist

JANUARY 30, 2015 — Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) is getting into the unmanned underwater vehicles business. Today it announced that it has acquired the Engineering Solutions Division (ESD) of the Columbia Group. The value of the transaction is not being disclosed.

Headquartered in Panama City Beach, FL, ESD employs about 30 engineers, analysts, craftsmen and technicians. While its primary customer is the U.S. Navy, the company develops and builds specialized manned and unmanned undersea vehicles for military customers around the world. It has built or converted specialized craft for a variety of purposes, including support of submersibles and submarines, special warfare, testing of mine warfare systems, torpedo countermeasures and more.

"ESD's experience in designing and developing manned and unmanned submersibles is a natural extension of the submarine work we do at Newport News Shipbuilding," said Matt Mulherin, HII corporate vice president and Newport News Shipbuilding president. "We believe the combination of Newport News and ESD expertise will enable us to compete successfully in the unmanned underwater vehicle market, and we are excited to welcome ESD to our team."

ESD will operate as Undersea Solutions Group, a subsidiary of HII, and will report to Newport News Shipbuilding's Submarine and Fleet Support division.

"As the Navy moves toward greater employment of unmanned vehicles in both the surface and undersea domains, it makes great strategic sense to bring together a builder of unmanned undersea vehicles and one of the world's great builders of naval ships and submarines," said Ross Lindman, ESD senior vice president. "Together, we can support the development of large and very large unmanned undersea vehicles and stay in step with the Navy as unmanned systems take on greater and more complex roles in the undersea battle space. The staff of ESD looks forward to joining Newport News Shipbuilding."

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