New Zealand’s Defense Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced MetOcean Solutions a winner of the annual Minister of Defense Industry Awards of Excellence for 2016. The company won the 'Provision of a product to Defense for less than $15 million' category for the SurfZoneView software. SurfZoneView is a tool designed to assist amphibious landings by modeling and visualizing surf conditions.
Defense and security company Saab announces it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), the biggest defense company in Poland. The document foresees the development of close cooperation between Saab and PGZ in the planning and delivery of Polish naval programs, including surface ship and submarine construction for the Polish Navy and export customers.
Autonomy and unmanned systems experts from across the naval science and technology (S&T) community will converge on the shores of the United Kingdom next month for the first-ever Unmanned Warrior joint exercise hosted by the British Royal Navy. The U.S. Navy contingent, led by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), will experiment with 10 technology projects to push the limits of maritime autonomous systems in real-world, challenging operational environments.
One of the first enlisted women to serve aboard a Navy submarine earned her submarine qualification, or "dolphins," on August 2nd and is preparing to deploy aboard USS Michigan (SSGN 727).
Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra, a native of Los Angeles, became the first female enlisted Sailor to earn her silver dolphins in a pinning ceremony held at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Tuesday.
Though assigned to Michigan, Saavedra embarked aboard USS Ohio (SSGN 726), which is currently deployed, to earn her basic, advanced, and underway watch qualifications. "I couldn't be more proud to wear the 'dolphins,'" said Saavedra. "To have earned the respect of my fellow submariners is more rewarding than expected. I am honored to serve as a qualified member in such a prestigious community."
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine is currently conducting a major maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The submarine completed its time in dry dock and is wrapping up the maintenance period later this summer. This will bring the ship one step closer to setting sail for the first time with female submariners. Work accomplished during the maintenance period will include the modification of living quarters for female chief petty officers and enlisted crew members.
"Chief Saavedra's accomplishment reinforces the fact that there are very capable women who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," said Capt. Joe Turk, commanding officer of USS Michigan. "Drawing from talented individuals like Chief Saavedra helps us maintain the world's best submarine force."
In June 2012, the first female supply officer earned her submarine qualification and the first three unrestricted line officers earned their gold dolphins the following December. Structural changes to the submarine weren't necessary at the time. Because officers bunk in three-man staterooms, the new female officers' living space was already separated from the common areas of the ship. Since the first selections were made in 2015, female enlisted Sailors have attended the Basic Enlisted Submarine School at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. Many of those selected had to cross-rate, which also included retraining in their new rating. Thirty-eight Sailors were selected in the second cycle announced in May 2016 and have entered the training pipeline; they will be assigned to USS Florida (SSGN 728), based out of Kings Bay, Georgia.
"This is a very exciting time for the submarine force and the Navy," said Rear Adm. Randy B. Crites, the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander. "We are reaching milestones that allow us to be more capable than ever by growing and diversifying our force as these exceptional women make their way through the training pipeline." The third application window for enlisted women on submarines will be announced in an October 2016 Naval message, or NAVADMIN. The selectees for the third round of selections will serve aboard USS Ohio (SSGN 726), home ported in Bangor, Washington.
For more information about enlisted women in submarines, visit the website.
Kraken Sonar Inc. (“Kraken”) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Kraken Sonar Systems Inc. will supply its KATFISH towed sonar system to Elbit Systems Ltd., a major international defence contractor based in Israel.
This past week Elbit unveiled a state-of-the-art Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) named “Seagull”. The Seagull USV is a multi-mission platform boasting high autonomy levels and modular features, allowing it to be rapidly reconfigured for a wide array of missions – including anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures.
“Elbit’s Seagull USV is one of the most advanced ocean drones in the world – one that will save lives,” said Karl Kenny, President of Kraken Sonar. “When our Synthetic Aperture Sonar is integrated on Elbit’s Seagull USV, the system can provide remotely operated, unmanned, end-to-end mine hunting operations. These ocean drones can detect very small objects hidden on the seabed and enter confined spaces where underwater explosives are likely to be hidden. Since robotic systems can be remotely operated their use can remove people from very dangerous missions - in essence, taking the sailor out of the minefield.”
The Seagull is a 40-foot autonomous launch that can be fitted with mission modules for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Mine Counter Measures (MCM) and force protection / patrol, including a stabilized, remotely operated .50-caliber machine gun and wire-guided torpedoes for stand-off destruction of naval mines and underwater Improvised Explosive Devices.
The new maritime warfare system is the latest product to emerge from Elbit Systems Inc. The company has considerable experience in unmanned surface vessel systems, including the 30-foot Silver Marlin and the 10-foot Stingray USV platforms, plus a 30-year track record with unmanned aerial vehicles.
Elbit’s Seagull system supports online operation in known and unknown areas, conducting area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It also equipped to launch and recover other underwater robotic sensors to identify and neutralize mines. Seagull can be operated via a remotely controlled Mission Control System from the shore or from other naval assets at sea, performing missions lasting more than 96 hours (four days) at a time. Inherent networking capability supports enhanced situation awareness.
The highly autonomous and safe sailing suite includes a patented navigation system, with obstacle avoidance, which considers the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea.
The Seagull USV measures 12 metres (39 feet, four inches) in length, has a top speed of over 35 miles per hour (60 kilometres per hour) and can carry a two-and-a-half ton payload.
The underwater defence market is evolving rapidly; responding to changing threats, tensions in the Middle East and Asia, economic and budgetary pressures and a growing trend by emerging navies to deploy asymmetrical weapons. As an example, today’s diesel-electric submarines are quickly becoming one of the biggest threats to naval operations and the $2 trillion commercial shipping industry.
Compounding the threat from stealthy submarines are the hazards posed to worldwide shipping from naval mines and underwater Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy ships or submarines. A contact mine requires a ship to come into contact to detonate. An influence mine requires a ship to change the localized magnetic, acoustic or pressure influences to detonate.
Like roadside bombs on land, naval mines are a cheap way to undercut naval might. Since World War II, mines have sunk or crippled 15 US Navy ships, more than all other weapons put together. Two influences mines crippled the $1 billion USS Princeton, a US Navy guided missile cruiser, in the first Gulf War 25 years ago.
There are an estimated 80,000 mines in the Baltic that were left over from the two World Wars. Some are still live. Although their fuses are not active, the explosive material is still there. If something happens to touch them, they can explode. As recently as 2005, one such mine killed three Dutch fishermen — a murderous reminder of how deadly mines can be, and for how long.
There is one big difference from World War II - the modern naval mine threat is much more sophisticated. Today, stealthy mines made of composite materials in sonar-deflecting shapes lurk amidst the clutter of the sea floor. There are buried mines covered by layers of sand, mud and silt. There are “rising mines” that wait in deep water for a ship to pass overhead, then ascend until they’re within range to fire a torpedo. There are reports that China is working on an anti-aircraft mine that can detect a low-flying helicopter and launch a missile at it. Iran is reported to own over 6,000 naval mines, North Korea has 50,000, China 100,000 or so and Russia is estimated to own over 250,000. There could be well over 500,000 naval mines in worldwide military inventories.
For over a century, clearing mines has been a brutal, crude and close-up business. For over twenty years, leading navies have been increasingly investing in technologies to “keep the sailor out of the minefield” by deploying unmanned systems, both underwater and on the surface.
Countering the Underwater Threat
Kraken’s KATFISH is an actively controlled, intelligent towfish platform used to generate real-time ultra-high resolution seabed imagery and maps for a variety of military and commercial applications. Kraken’s products are primarily targeted to the rapidly growing Unmanned Maritime Systems drone market which is primarily comprised of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs).
Until recently, conventional side scan sonars have been the leading technology for detailed mapping and imaging of the seafloor. However, Kraken’s revolutionary sonar technology called Miniature Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Sonar (MINSAS) is now commercially available and is especially well-suited for military mine hunting missions. MINSAS delivers ultra-high seabed image resolution (3 cm), simultaneously co-registered 3D bathymetry and superior area coverage rates. The ability to generate centimetre-scale sonar resolution in all three dimensions has the potential to provide significant improvements in the detection, classification and identification of small seabed objects such as underwater mines and IEDs.
From a platform perspective, towed sonar systems have the benefit of acquiring sonar data to operators at high speed and in real-time. This is a critical feature for mine-hunting operations to enable the earliest possible identification and classification of underwater threats. Onboard processing enables real-time analysis of sonar data, significantly reducing post mission analysis time.
Actively controlled towfish provide a superior platform for seabed survey, particularly when using Synthetic Aperture Sonar. An actively controlled towfish can compensate for input disturbances, greatly improving the towed platform stability and the overall image quality. In addition, intelligently controlled active towfish can control their depth and altitude using intelligent bottom following and bottom avoidance routines.
Placing a survey sensor - such as Kraken’s Miniature Synthetic Aperture Sonar - closer to the seafloor will result in the acquisition of much higher resolution data. When the sensor is integrated to a high speed, intelligently stabilized towed platform such as KATFISH, better quality data is acquired at a faster rate, thus improving efficiency and lowering both operational and data acquisition costs. KATFISH provides the highest resolution seabed pixels at the lowest cost compared to any other competing survey sonar platform.
Drawing on world class know-how derived from generations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) design, development and operation and its naval capabilities, Elbit Systems’ newest offering in the unmanned platform field is Seagull - an organic, modular, highly autonomous, multi-mission Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) system.
Seagull is a 12-meter USV with replaceable mission modules, with two vessels capable of being operated and controlled in concert using a single Mission Control System (MCS), from manned ships or from the shore.
The system provides unmanned end-to-end mine hunting operation taking the man out of the mine field. It provides mission planning, and on-line operation in known and unknown areas, including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.
Seagull changes the dynamics of anti-submarine operations by creating a threat to submarines using a cost-effective and available asset, replacing and augmenting manned assets with minimal threat from submarines. It empowers a surface vessel or naval base commander with off-board, available and rapidly deployable Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities to protect critical sea areas and high-value assets from submarine as well as sea mine threats.
Incorporating Elbit Systems' extensive experience in UAS, Seagull features a robust, highly-autonomous and safe sailing capability as well as modular mission payload suites, selected to match a variety of required missions including EW, surface force protection, hydrographical missions in addition to the core MCM and ASW missions. The sailing suite includes a patented Autonomous Navigation System (ANS), with obstacle avoidance, which considers the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea. Network ready and long enduring, Seagull features inherent C4I capabilities for enhanced situation awareness and can remain at sea for over 96 hours. The Seagull multi-mission USV system offers navies a true force-multiplier in reducing risk, cost and manpower requirements in performing missions which have only been performed to date by costly manned assets.
BMT Designers & Planners, a subsidiary of BMT Group, the leading international maritime design, engineering and risk management consultancy, has been awarded a United States Navy Environmental Quality Programs Support contract at a value of $43M over five years. BMT will expand its environmental, engineering, and logistics services practice to support the program and other similar client requirements.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro
Under the contract, BMT will provide support services to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA); Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD); and NSWCCD Ship Systems Engineering Station for existing and future programs/technologies supporting the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, Foreign Military Sales, and joint programs worldwide. Tasking includes support for expeditionary energy technology, ship discharge and waste stream analysis, research and development, in-service engineering, and program management.
“We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the Navy by continuing to provide expert engineering support” said Rick Cox, Vice President of Business Development at BMT Designers & Planners. “We are thrilled to have been selected for this effort.”
Team BMT’s Program Manager is Ray Marcantonio, who leads the firm’s environmental, system safety, and human factors engineering practice.
British company Blue Bear Systems Research (BBSR) is promoting its autonomous sonobuoy deployment (ASD) capability that significantly enhances anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations. The system, which combines hardware and software, has been developed the globally recognized specialists in the design, development, evaluation and implementation of unmanned systems. BBSR supplies leading military and industry customers around the world, including the UK Ministry of Defence. The company sees enormous potential for ASD, which is designed for use with both manned and unmanned rotary wing and fixed wing maritime platforms.
Enhanced precision and safety, together with reduced costs, are key benefits of ASD. The system is pre-programmed by the user selecting the desired pattern of sonobuoy deployment. ASD then automatically determines the most efficient route to drop the buoys, which only happens when it is safe to do so. The system takes information from existing onboard systems such as AIS, Air Data Units, radar and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) and weather conditions.
Deployment can be achieved at low or medium altitude automatically, leaving the crew free to concentrate on locating the submarine threat. No new equipment is involved and minimal training is required.
The capability has been demonstrated on the Royal Navy frigate HMS Iron Duke. It visualizes the automated deployment of sonobuoys from an AW159 6 tonne class maritime helicopter and/or a 2 to 3 ton class Rotary Wing UAS (RUAS). Once deployed, the sonobuoy information can be processed by an onboard acoustic processor on the AW159, the RUAS or relayed to a ship via a smaller 150kg class RUAS.
Dr. Yoge Patel, BBSR's Chief Executive Officer, said, "Autonomous systems are fundamental to the future effectiveness of anti-submarine warfare. We are keen for a worldwide audience to have the opportunity to see our innovative sonobuoy deployment system integrated into manned and unmanned platforms."
BMT Designers & Planners, Inc. (BMT), an operating company of BMT Group Ltd, a leading international design, engineering and risk management consultancy, has announced that it has won a three-year contract to support the US Navy’s environmental and conservation programs.
The contract was awarded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Indian Head Division to provide technical and analytical support for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Laboratory Quality and Accreditation Office (LQAO) and affiliated agencies.
Over a three-year period, the contract has a ceiling of about $5,700,000. BMT expects to work on 40-50 projects over the course of the new contract.
This contract will cover management and technical support tasks in matters concerning the US Navy environmental and conservation programs. During the course of the contract, BMT will work on projects in the following areas: development of information systems, annual program plan development, environmental audits, review of emerging environmental regulations, training plans and aids, development of environmental media plans and Navy instructions, annual Navy environmental budget process reviews, and environmental project reviews.
Kai Skvarla, Managing Director of BMT Designers and Planners Inc said "BMT is proud to have been awarded this new contract so that we can continue our quality service to the Navy’s Environmental Readiness Division."
This is a 1,000lb ‘medium capacity’ – general purpose – bomb. And in a few minutes it’ll be torn apart in a million pieces courtesy of the charge being laid by a Royal Navy diver.
A team from the Northern Diving Group is spending a fortnight at the north-western tip of the British Isles dealing with a rich haul of unexploded bombs.
Each summer the bomb disposal experts from Faslane decamp to the ranges at Cape Wrath to get rid of high explosives peppering the seabed.
The remote ranges – the nearest village, Durness, is ten miles away, Thurso is 60 miles to the east, Inverness 80 miles to the south – are used extensively by the military, from naval shells raining down from the 4.5in guns of the Fleet to Apache gunships letting rip.
And 350 yards off the cape there’s Garvie Island – around 750ft long, 250ft wide at the fattest section. It lies on a north-east/south-west axis and (supposedly) resembles the outline of an aircraft carrier.
Image courtesy: Royal Navy
As it’s positively indestructible, it’s been hammered repeatedly by RN and RAF jets down the year as pilots hurled 500 and 1,000lb bombs at it – some practice weapons, some live.
Spotters on shore report the fall of the bombs, so dive teams have a rough idea of where any unexploded ordnance might lie.
Most of the bombs land in a trough between the island and a reef.
Those which have been down the shortest time are usually still in good condition – lettering and markings, such as a green and yellow ring (live) or blue (practice bomb) can still be made out. But bombs which have languished on the seabed longer are often hidden by the dense ‘forests’ of kelp which makes hunting them down trickier.
The team from Faslane are interested in American-made Mk80s and various 500 and 1,000 pounders dropped by British and NATO forces.
Once located, a diver-placed charge – four pounds of plastic explosive – are fixed on the bomb and a five-minute timer set to give the divers plenty of time to retreat to a safe distance.
So far, AB(D) Stephen Kenrick from Widnes is currently the charge having been the first to find one 1,000lb and a 500lbs Mk82 bomb in the same day.
Ocean Aero announced this week that it signed a multi-million dollar two-year contract with the Department of Defense under the Rapid Innovation Fund (DoD RIF) program. Ocean Aero was selected to create a prototype Long Range Unmanned Underwater and Surface Vessel, similar to their current Submaran model. This contract is the result of a year of developing this exclusive concept, drafting and writing the proposal, as well as negotiating the contract with the DoD.
The Department of Defense’s Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) was created to implement small business technologies into programs designed for national security needs. RIF issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) early last year looking for firms who had the ability to produce a “long range, high endurance hybrid unmanned underwater/surface vehicle that can transit for long, open ocean distances on the surface with a relatively low signature and then submerge to avoid surface traffic; and conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.”
CEO and President, Eric Patten, noted the magnitude and value this contract to the local San Diego business, “We are very excited about this opportunity to grow as a company and demonstrate how valuable the Submaran is to major organizations around the world. This contract further validates that our team is on the right path with our technology and vision.”
Ocean Aero Contact: Meg Patten at email@example.com
Annual DURIP awards will support instrumentation that enables observation of marine acoustics, ocean currents, and waves
The Department of Defense (DoD) announced awards to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego that will help scientists characterize waves, improve ocean weather and climate prediction, and analyze acoustics in the deep ocean.
The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants support the development of instruments that have a wide range of military applications. In all, 14 researchers from UC San Diego received awards.
“These awards will enable significant advancements that have immediate importance to military applications and long-term societal benefits,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “I am especially proud of our researchers this year because of the unprecedented number of awards our university received. This underscores the significance of our work, as well as the positive impact and return on investment that our campus provides.”
"I am so proud of the valuable research conducted by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography,” said U.S. 53rd District Rep. Susan Davis. “This research enables the Navy to maintain technical superiority by hastening the transition of basic research into practical application. DoD’s recognition of Scripps’ important work is evident in its decision to award eight Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) awards to the institution. The collaboration between the Department and research universities is vitally important to our national security, and I look forward to seeing the great work these grants will fund.”
"These eight awards to Scripps Oceanography demonstrate that the DoD understands the importance of the blue economy and creation of innovative BlueTech from a national security point-of-view,” said Michael Jones, president of The Maritime Alliance and organizer of the San Diego BlueTech cluster, a community of maritime technology organizations. “BlueTech creation is also the precursor to transition to industry and the creation of good paying blue jobs critical for our economy.”
The awards, administered through the Office of Naval Research (ONR), continue a history of collaboration between Scripps and the U.S. Navy that dates back to the years immediately prior to World War II, when the Navy would charter Scripps’ sole research vessel, E.W. Scripps, for research. In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the Navy acknowledged the role played by Scripps researchers in developing ways to time amphibious assaults on Nazi positions using wind forecasts to select periods with favorable surf and swell conditions.
"DURIP is an important component in ONR's strategy for development and employment of new research instrumentation,” said Frank Herr, director of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. “Our at-sea research initiatives often rely on DURIP instruments to bring forth the novel science at the heart of the proposed efforts."
"These awards are a testament to the ingenuity and world-leading research being done throughout Scripps," said Scripps Director Margaret Leinen. “They acknowledge the importance of our mission to understand and protect the planet.”
The DURIP awards support development of a number of different oceanographic tools:
150324-N-EF657-076 APRA HARBOR, Guam (March 24, 2015) Marines from the 3rd Marine Reconnaissance Battalion prepare to disembark the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) during a small boat exercise in Apra Harbor. The Marines, based in Okinawa, Japan, worked with the Navy to practice small boat deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy Wilson/Released)
With the release of NAVADMIN 142/15 "FY16 Enlisted Women in Submarines Selections", the first group of enlisted female Sailors from across the Navy has been chosen to serve in the U.S. Navy's submarine force.
Rear Adm. Charles "Chas" Richard, commander, Submarine Group 10 and Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander, said the interest to apply was impressive.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the amount of interest shown by enlisted women in wanting the opportunity to serve in the undersea warfare domain. It's an exciting time in the submarine force, as we continue to move forward in shaping the future of our force, drawing from the best pool of talent possible."
A strong response fleetwide was received in the call for enlisted female Sailors applying for conversion into submarine force ratings. Applications from women representing 31 different ratings from shore and sea commands worldwide were received for the initial application period to fill four chief petty officer (E7 paygrade) and 34 rating conversion positions in the paygrades of E6 and below across the two crews of the USS Michigan (SSGN 727). Michigan is one of the Navy's Ohio-class guided-submarines homeported in Bangor, Washington.
Sailors from nearly every community throughout the Navy applied and the selections represented this diverse group of applicants, including junior Sailors who enlisted under the Professional Apprenticeship Career Tracks (PACT) program. The skills and experience they are bringing with them into the submarine force will set the foundation for excelling in their new ratings.
Based on the number of applications, the selection process was competitive and used an objective review and scoring of each application. Selections were made based on the Sailor's performance in their current rating, the Sailor's desired submarine rating assignment, the needs of the ship to fill billets of planned rotations where appropriate, and lastly the needs of the Navy for rating community health, both in the old and new ratings. Applications were scored on performance evaluations, warfare qualifications, commanding officer endorsements, sea service time, physical readiness testing, and similarity of current rating to desired submarine rating.
"There were many exceptional candidates who we were unable to select in this rotation simply because we did not have enough positions open on the first two crews." said Capt. Rod Hutton, deputy commander for the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force, "These fully qualified Sailors have been placed on the alternate list and will automatically be considered when we select the next group in continuing to grow opportunities for women to serve in the submarine force. We look forward to reviewing their records again, as well as those of Sailors who want to add their names to the mix this summer and fall."
Each Sailor will be contacted and provided the opportunity to update their application as they continue to excel in their careers today. For example, a Sailor selected as an alternate may have received her best evaluation of her career after submitting her initial application for the first cohort. She will now have the opportunity to add that stellar evaluation to her existing application.
With the Sailors having been identified, they will now undergo the standard submarine medical screening process. After they have cleared medical screening, they will begin the training pipeline with Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS) in Groton, Connecticut. Sailors who applied to change ratings will also be provided the technical training through "A" schools and possibly "C" schools to prepare them for their new assignment.
These selections are only the first step in a long-term plan approved by the CNO to integrate the submarine force and provide opportunities for women in the Navy to serve in all types of submarines in support of all missions in the undersea warfare domain. The next window for applications will open in July 2015, and will be announced via a separate NAVADMIN. The second group of enlisted female submarine conversions will be assigned to another Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, USS Florida (SSGN 729), homeported in Kings Bay, Georgia.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/sublant/.