Martin Marietta to work on GE anti-sub system


The misfortune of the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group defense plant in Sykesville has been a boon for Martin Marietta Corp.'s submarine warfare complex in Glen Burnie.

The strange Pentagon scenario started this year when the Navy awarded General Electric Co. a $151 million contract for the production of seven ship-based anti-submarine warfare combat systems known as the AN/SQQ-89.

Westinghouse lost in its bid to capture that contract.

But Martin's Aero & Naval Systems plant in northern Anne Arundel County won a spot on the GE team and was awarded a $16.9 million subcontract to produce 15 towed sonar arrays, plus spare parts, that are a part of the SQQ-89 system.

Towed arrays are electronic eavesdropping devices. They consist of a large number of sensitive listening devices, called hydrophones, embedded in long, hose-like structures.

The units are towed through the water by submarines or ships and are used to detect and track submarines.

Martin's work on the GE program, along with another contract received last week for the production of towed arrays for Canada and Spain, is expected to result in the recall of at least some of the more than 100 workers laid off by Martin last November.

The SQQ-89 system is designed to offset the threat of newer, quieter Soviet submarines. Although the SQQ-89 is cloaked in secrecy, the Navy has said it is designed to detect enemy submarines at greater distances than is possible with today's equipment and guide an assortment of weapons to destroy the subs.

Another submarine warfare program finds Martin's Middle River plant teamed with Westinghouse. The two companies produce the MK-50 torpedo. Westinghouse, as the prime contractor of the weapons system, awarded Martin's Baltimore County plant a $16.5 million contract yesterday to produce the guidance system for the torpedo, which can be launched by ships or aircraft.

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