Grindstone company makes torpedo decoy winches for Navy

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 6:51 p.m.

Shumar Welding and Machine Services in Grindstone, which has been making torpedo decoy winches for the U.S. Navy since 1999, was recently awarded another subcontract to create eight more, resulting in the 100th winch to be made at the facility.

U.S. Congressman Bill Shuster announced that Shumar Welding and Machine, has been awarded the subcontract from the Boeing subsidiary Argon ST, for the manufacture the U.S. Naval Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, or SSTD, winches.

These winches are a major component in the AN / SLQ -25C SSTD System, also known as “NIXIE.” The “NIXIE” system is a shipboard based torpedo decoy system and is carried aboard all U.S. Navy surface combatant ships.

“Small businesses like Shumar Welding and Machine offer a unique combination of innovation and cost savings to the Department of Defense while providing them with the highest quality products available,” Shuster said. “The work they do is essential to the war fighter and it is essential that we support local businesses like them. I am pleased to continue to work with Shumar as their innovations directly support the defense of this nation.”

Shumar's has been working on the eight winches for several months, and will have them completed and ready to ship in March.

The winches are comprised of approximately 150 different parts, most of which are manufactured at Shumar's. The completed unit will measure 5 feet by 8 feet and will weigh about 3 tons. The original design of the winches has not been altered since first applied in 1999.

“Contract after contract, it's the same winch,” project coordinator Diane Fox said. “It's still the old style, but it still works. There was never a need for a newer version.”

The winch will act as the release and retrieval device for the torpedo decoys, which are affixed to cables that will be released from the ships.

“The decoys actually create the illusion of a ship,” Fox said. “The decoy will trick a torpedo into thinking that the ship is actually much further away than it really is.”

When completed, the winches will be transported to Naval ships where some adjustments will be made to accommodate the units.

“They will actually cut into the side of the ship and place the winch then seal that hole back up,” Fox said.

While Shumar's will be concentrating on the winches, only a fraction of the 95 employees will be working on the contract.

“We have a team of about 10 that work on the winches,” quality control manager Jason Forsythe said. “The others will be working on various other areas in our two facilities.”

The remaining employees are kept busy with other focal areas of the business, which are mining and natural gas.

Shumar's defense projects have included the AN / SLQ -25C SSTD winches, USMC Tactical 5th wheel trailers and Humvee Turrets.

In addition to providing rebuild services to longwall mining equipment, Shumar's designs and manufactures several of its own pieces of mining equipment, such as roof bolters, rib bolters, cansetters and tailpiece crawlers in its two manufacturing facilities.

Shumar owner Eli Shumar said he is pleased that Shuster was instrumental in helping his company get the contract.

“John Murtha was always a champion for bringing jobs to the area,” Shumar said of the late congressman, adding that Murtha was instrumental in bringing the Argon offices into the area, which are still located in Lemont Furnace and Smithfield.

“I am very pleased to see Congressman Shuster continue that for us. I'm worried about the jobs in Fayette County and the recent announcements from the power plants, but Congressman Shuster is helping to keep things alive.”

Shumar added that he is pleased that his company remains an important asset to the community and to the defense of the country.

“We work with energy to keep the lights on, and we work with defense to keep the country safe.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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