Navy asks for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and sensor and signal-processing payloads for deep water

April 2, 2024
The NRL Acoustics Division wants to enhance their current fleet of UUVs to accommodate new payload requirements, as well as the purchase of new UUVs.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy researchers are surveying industry for companies able to replace, upgrade, and modify the Navy's fleet of Black Pearl- and Reliant-class unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to accommodate a variety of new sensor and signal-processing payloads.

Officials of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington issued a request for information (N00173-24-RFI-GI02) on Thursday for Design, development, construction, integration, and testing of Black Pearl class Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) project. Navy researchers are looking for companies able modify, build, maintain, and support NRL's UUVs.

The NRL Acoustics Division today uses Black Pearl-and Reliant-class UUVs from the General Dynamics Mission Systems Inc.-Bluefin Robotics subdivision in Quincy, Mass.

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Yet NRL Acoustics Division officials want to enhance their current fleet of UUVs to accommodate new sensor and signal-processing payloads, as well as the purchase of new UUVs, to support their current and future research programs.

NRL wants to find companies able to support design and modification of NRL's existing Black Pearl and Reliant class UUVs, to accommodate newly developed NRL payloads, and build five newly designed Black Pearl class UUVs modified to accommodate NRL-developed and -furnished payloads.

The company selected will continue UUV maintenance and at-sea operations support.

The company chosen also will:

-- develop a new tail cone compatible with an NRL-supplied Teledyne Pathfinder Doppler Velocity Logger (DVL) for operation in relatively deep water;
-- integrate the NRL payloads into Black Pearl systems;
-- ensure that all of the design modifications are integrated appropriately;
-- fabricate, integrate, and test the modified Black Pearl systems;
-- Build and test five Black Pearl UUVs;
-- build a battery section, including batteries, for each of the Black Pearl UUVs;

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-- build an empty payload receiver section for each of the Black Pearl UUVs;
-- build a nose section for each of the Black Pearl UUVs;
-- integrate all of the vehicle sections and conduct laboratory testing; and
-- provide topside support equipment for use with the Black Pearl UUVs, including RF deck box with antenna, Iridium deck box with antenna, Sonardyne Dunker kit, RDF receiver and antenna, battery chargers, vehicle carts and shipping cases, and ruggedized operator laptop with operator software.

Most of the work will be in Jacksonville and Panama City, Fla.; San Diego; Whidbey Island, Wash.; Honolulu; and the Baltic Sea.

Companies interested should email responses no later than Friday 5 April 2024 to the NRL's Graham Irby at [email protected]. More information is online at

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