The propulsion system of the MK48 torpedo is based on development and production in Cleveland. An early in-water competition nicknamed “the Shootout” pitted Westinghouse Corporation against Clevite Corporation of Cleveland. Taking place in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Cape Canaveral, FL, the Clevite Corporation’s propulsion system design proved to be the better performer of the two designs and was selected as the design of record for the MK48 torpedo. Soon after, Clevite was acquired by Gould, and the first large quantity produced was the MK48 Mod 4. At this time the Navy decided it needed dual sourcing and a second team of TRW and Hughes was used to manufacture the Mod 4 unit. As with the MK46, TRW manufactured the propulsion system and Hughes manufactured the front end. In contrast, Gould manufactured the entire torpedo. The Mod 4 proved to be a reliable product used for many years in the Navy.
In the 1980s Russian technology for submarines created the “alpha threat” of a Russian submarine that could go deeper and father than the Mod 4 units. There was an immediate need for a MK48 torpedo that could go deeper and farther, and within 16 months the MK48 Mod 5 was developed. This design upgrade allowed the US Navy to still be within striking distance of their Russian counterparts. Gould conducted the bulk of the development of the MK 48 Mod 5 units, and was bought out at the time by Westinghouse.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the mod 5 was replaced with the Mod 6 unit. The mod 6 was primarily designed to run quieter and maintain the strong capability of strike in shallow waters as well. Although much of the development work was again done by Gould/Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman in Cleveland, some of the upgrades were implemented by Raytheon. Much of this upgrade was implemented by OTS for Raytheon.
OTS’ Involvement Today
OTS has been integral in the manufacture of the latest torpedo from the start, with some of our personnel being part of “the Shootout.” OTS currently maintains all remaining in-process data used by Gould/Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman and TRW in the production of the MK48 torpedo. This technical data provides process insight not found on government drawings. In short, it often answers the “why they did what they did” and “how they did what they did” when they developed the MK48 torpedo. Many of the on-call Cleveland consultants often utilize this data to reinforce knowledge from the past, thus mitigating risk.
In addition to the technical data, OTS is in possession of some of the tooling, gauging and actual equipment used to make the torpedo during the production era. Included is the original lathe used to manufacture over 70% of the fuel tank and other shells for the MK48. The paint process used on these shells is based on Weapon Spec WS22351. Currently, OTS’ vendor is one of a select few commercial vendors certified to this specification. As a result of this equipment, knowledge, and technical data OTS has provided over 85% of the component parts in the Fuel Tank and Afterbody (FT/AB) to the US Navy.
Included but not limited to the following:
- Cylinder Barrel and Liner Assembly
- Engine Shaft Assembly
- Coolant Pump
- All Torpedo Shells
- All Type II Cable Assemblies
- Engine Housings
- Speed Control Valve
- Velocity Sensor Switch
- Vane Assemblies