Huntington Ingalls to Assemble Boeing’s Orca Unmanned Undersea Vehicle at New Facility

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Huntington Ingalls has completed the first phase of its Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence with the construction of a 22,000-square-foot facility.

The first of two planned buildings on the 20-acre campus in Hampton, Virginia will be used to assemble hull structures for Boeing’s Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) program for the U.S. Navy.

Construction began in September 2020, following a ground-breaking event with special guests, including Gov. Ralph Northam and other state and local government officials.

Structural development of the main facility, a 135,000-square-foot building, is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2021. The facility will be used for unmanned systems prototyping, production and testing.

Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV)

Orca is under development by Boeing by Huntington Ingalls Industries. In February, HII acquired Hydroid Inc. from Kongsberg to build Orca, four of which the U.S. Navy plans to acquire.

The basic Orca design shares a 16 m length with Echo Voyager, but the Orca will incorporate a more modular construction, primarily for the capability to be built with an additional payload module of up to 10 m long and a capacity of 8 tonnes for a total length of 26 m.

The Navy specified the ability to adapt the Orca platform according to mission, with the ability for surveillance, submerged, surface, and electronic combat, and minesweeping. The vessel will be powered by a hybrid diesel/lithium-ion battery system, which powers the Orca by battery while submerged and recharges the batteries with diesel generators while surfaced. Maximum speed is 8 knots (15 km/h), though the typical service speed is about 3 knots (5.6 km/h), which gives the Orca a range of up to 6,500 miles (10,500 km) with an endurance of several months.