HII breaks ground for Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam joined HII and other Commonwealth and local officials to break ground at HII’s new Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence. Pictured, from left to right: Robert Brown, president of Robert Brown & Associates; Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck; Gov. Ralph Northam; Andy Green, president of HII’s Technical Solutions; and Commerce and Trade Secretary Brian Ball. [HII photo]

America’s largest military shipbuilder is gearing up for the U.S. Navy’s plans for a future fleet mix that will include many more unmanned vessels, both on the water and beneath it. Huntington Ingalls Industries has broken ground on a new Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence in Hampton, Va. Two buildings totaling over 150,000 square feet will be constructed on the 20-acre campus and will be purpose-built for unmanned systems prototyping, production and testing.

“With U.S. Navy’s increasing demand for UUVs and USVs, we are committed to investing in and expanding our unmanned systems capabilities,” said Andy Green, HII executive vice president and president of Technical Solutions. “Our new Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence will ensure we can continue to provide our customers with the most advanced autonomous systems across all class sizes.”

The state-of-the-art facility will havea high-tech digital manufacturing infrastructure. The space will be reconfigurable for different production and systems integration projects and have precision machining capabilities, a surface finishing area and a dedicated welding space.

“Virginia is proud to be home to the largest military shipbuilder in the country,” said Gov. Ralph Northam, who attended the ground breaking ceremony. “Huntington Ingalls Industries is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, and this investment is a powerful testament to Virginia’s workers and business environment. The company’s new unmanned systems facility in Hampton will support America’s national security and play a key role in strengthening our economic recovery as we continue working to rebound from this health crisis.”

HII partnered with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the city of Hampton and the Hampton Roads Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. More than 250 jobs will be created and will enable collaboration with HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division, which has advanced undersea system engineering capabilities.

“The new campus complements our current facilities in Massachusetts, Florida and Washington that have been delivering marine robotics to the Navy for nearly 20 years,” said Duane Fotheringham, president, Technical Solutions’ Unmanned Systems business group. “In order to manufacture and support large and extra-large UUVs, the size of the manufacturing operation needs to increase significantly. This new facility will give us the space and infrastructure we need to scale our operations to meet the needs of our customers now and into the future.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was also attended by Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball; Hampton Mayor Donnie R. Tuck; Hampton Economic Development Director Chuck Rigney Sr., and Rob Brown, president of Robert Brown & Associates.

The first 22,000-square-foot building will be completed by the end of this year. The main 135,000-square-foot-facility is planned to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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