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PORT HUENEME, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2023) ─ In early August, NAVFAC EXWC and several government and industry partners kicked off a project to test an underwater fuel cell system designed to recharge autonomous underwater systems without requiring them to return to a base or mothership. The U.S. Navy is increasingly interested in such systems as it deploys more unmanned underwater vehicles capable of operating independently and far from traditional support mechanisms.
Teledyne Energy Systems will provide its Subsea Supercharger® (SSC) system and Hibbard Inshore will provide their Sabertooth AUV to begin testing early next year, to be executed by EXWC, sponsored by the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, and funded by the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) that is managed by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy (DASDOE) through the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment. Several other Navy commands were on hand to observe the test for other potential uses.
Teledyne Energy System’s SSC is an industry-first power source and charging station designed to operate at the bottom of the ocean. The SSC uses hydrogen fuel cell technology developed for space applications to deliver reliable power underwater. Such systems could help the Navy increase asset utilization by extending mission duration and endurance, lower the cost and risk of executing subsea operations, reduce the environmental impact of subsea operations, and minimize the requirement for surface vessel presence. Teledyne’s system consists of a frame with hydrogen and oxygen gas storage cylinders on either side of a fuel cell.
About Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC)
NAVFAC EXWC is a U.S. Navy command of more than 1,000 dedicated federal employees, military personnel, and contractors who provide research, development, testing and evaluation, in-service engineering, and lifecycle management for shore, oceans, and expeditionary domains.