Navy turns to area firms for work at Surface Warfare Center
The Naval Surface Warfare Center at Port Hueneme has been working on its own version of buying local, counting on a growing number of small area suppliers to meet technical and professional needs.
Officials from the testing and research facility told tri-county businesses during an industry forum on March 25 that it’s now sourcing nearly half of its work from area small businesses.
More than 100 company representatives from Southern California met with officials at the Surface Warfare Center at Port Hueneme to find out about working with the naval center through cooperative R&D agreements and other contracts.
During the event, held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Oxnard, Navy representatives took the stage to provide presentations on how to work with the center while workshops later in the day focused on specific fields, such as industry, engineering or management services; tech startups, welding shops and financial services providers were just a few of the many business categories that took part.
In 2014 the naval center did a total of 45.7 percent of its work with small businesses, surpassing the center’s goal of doing 25 percent of its work with these businesses.
Daniel Deconzo, small business deputy for the Surface Warfare Center at Corona, told the audience that these numbers reflect the center’s commitment to working with more small companies, although these numbers have declined for fiscal year 2015 so far.
The center also strives to work with woman-owned businesses, companies located in historically under-utilized business zones, service-disabled veteran-owned business and others that are socially disadvantaged, as part of federal efforts to do so.
The annual industry forum was launched just last year, and the crucial difference this year is the program’s focus on tech transfer and the newly created position of the chief technology officer. Kurt Schultzel, who has been working with the NSCW at Port Hueneme for more than 30 years, took on the position in November of last year. He said the Port Hueneme division of the Surface Warfare Center is different from many others across the country because it largely focuses on testing and evaluation.
Since the Port Hueneme division is coastal, it mainly deals with shorter term research and development for weaponry and infrastructure that can be sent out to the fleet quicker, Schultzel said.
“What we’re looking for in businesses is the agility and tech capability to answer questions quickly,” he said. “Out here [at Port Hueneme], we’re very close to the fleet, so we’re interested in shorter term capabilities … Our goal is to get the tech capability to the warfighter as fast as possible.”
One tech company that has joined forces with the Navy’s Port Hueneme research unit is VSolvit, a Ventura-based software tools firm. The company signed its cooperative R&D agreement with the Port Hueneme Surface Warfare Center in December and is working to help develop a cyber intelligence assessment system that would help the Navy assess cyber vulnerabilities aboard ships.
The collaboration is an example of how the naval center is seeking out technology transfers with private companies, enlisting these businesses to participate in research for developing a specific tech capability or product.
“As an outgrowth of our mission to facilitate technology transfers with third parties, the signing of this [cooperative research and development agreement] with VSolvit is memorable,” Greg Wakatsuki, of the center’s Office of Research and Technology Applications, said in a statement from VSolvit. “With a CRADA, we have the unique ability to collaborate with outside companies in the research and development of a product and then we let the Navy test drive the new product to determine whether or not it meets the demanding needs of the Fleet.”