WASHINGTON – Westinghouse Electric Corp. – the largest manufacturing firm in Maryland – has been awarded a $43 million contract by the Navy to build a prototype for a high-tech underwater defense system.
Barry Woodland, Westinghouse’s manager for the project, said the firm’s research on underwater technology for the past 15 years helped secure the contract.
John Gorman, spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command, said the firm had no competition.
The project, which will be conducted at Westinghouse’s Oceanic Division in Annapolis, will create an unmanned vehicle that can detect mines and minefields underwater.
Gorman said the Navy decided to develop the technology after the Desert Storm operation in the Persian Gulf.
“After any war or skirmish, the military undergoes an upgrading process,” he said.
The Navy will use the mine-hunting system in amphibious operations, Gorman said. A submarine will launch the vehicle and pick it up after it detects the mines.
About 100 Westinghouse employees in the Annapolis division will work to complete the project by January 1998, Woodland said.
Bruce Frame, spokesman for Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., said Westinghouse was awarded the contract because of the quality of its research and its location near federal military installations.
Its proximity to those installations gives the firm easier access to innovative technologies being developed there, said Mary Lou Baker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic and Employment Development.
Military installations in Maryland that have research and development labs and testing and evaluation facilities include the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Md.; Fort Ritchie in Cascade, Md., and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Lexington Park, Md., said Pradeep Ganguly, a research associate director at DEED. -30-