Quiet Bunks
Navy SBIR NX191 - Topic NX19-004
Special Out of Cycle BAA
Opens: April 12, 2019 - Closes: May 13, 2019 (2:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Quiet Bunks


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems, Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Columbia Class Submarine

OBJECTIVE: Today’s sailors are asked to perform ever increasing tasks and thus need to be at peak performance. Restful sleep is essential to achieving this peak performance, yet the close working quarters inside submarines can be detrimental to sleep cycles. Therefore, materials and uses of materials to bolster the natural sleep cycle for more restorative rest are desired. Additionally, sound damping materials may be used to reduce mechanical or other noises onboard platforms.

DESCRIPTION: Solutions are sought that provide the acoustic performances necessary to meet the objective described above for sailors. Proposed solutions may be new materials with improved acoustic properties, or they may be established materials used in new, creative manners.

Chosen materials and use of materials must provide a continuous acoustic level for individual bunks on a submarine not to exceed 30 dB [Ref 1]. While typical crew bunks measure 76” X 26” [Ref 2] with approximately 2 feet between bunks, these numbers may vary somewhat, and so proposed solutions must accommodate variable sizing. Implementation cannot involve direct contact with the sailor (e.g., no headphones) and cannot hamper the sailor’s movement or prevent immediate actions (e.g., rapid bunk exit). Furthermore, proposed solutions must not create total sound isolation and must allow sailors to hear sounds associated with any urgent situations. All materials and uses of material must meet all strict fire and safety requirements on a submarine including flame resistance. The material should also be applicable to placement on mechanical and other noise sources onboard a submarine. Cost and ease of use of materials will also be considered when determining viability of a solution.

PHASE I: In the initial 5-page proposal, proposers must provide test results from laboratory experiments, simulations using initial prototype designs, or other relevant documentation to demonstrate that the proposed technical solution is feasible for accomplishing the objectives stated above and will be able to meet the performance parameters set forth in the Description. In addition, the initial proposal must provide requested information on tasks and costs for each of the four (4) rounds of incremental funding at each Milestone Decision, as described in detail in the Technical Proposal Guideline.

By submitting Phase I proof of feasibility documentation, the small business asserts that none of the funding for the cited technology was reimbursed under any federal government agency’s SBIR/STTR program. Demonstrating proof of feasibility is a requirement for a Direct to Phase II award.

PHASE II: For this topic, proposers must meet the following program requirements for each round to be considered for the next round:

Round I. Prototype Development:  Manufacture a material that can be easily assembled into a functioning prototype and meets the acoustic performance requirements. A prototype design and a preliminary early prototype construction will be shown to the Government. A report will be provided to the Government describing material manufacturability, material performance, and prototype design at the end of Round I. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round I shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $250,000.

Round II. Prototype Demonstration of Viability: The material and design from Round I will be used to produce one or more initial functioning prototypes. The initial prototype will be tested for its acoustic damping performance in a laboratory or shop room that simulates operational conditions. The Government will observe the prototype tests and provide feedback. A prototype performance report and an updated prototype design will be provided to the Government at the end of Round II. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round II shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $500,000.

Round III. Pilot Testing in an Operational Environment:  The prototype(s) from Round II will be evaluated in an operational environment selected by the Government. The operational environment may be at one or more locations and may include multiple tests. Government will attend tests and will provide feedback to the performer. The performer will use operational test results and Government feedback to refine the prototype for continued testing. A fully functional prototype and a detailed report on prototyping test results will be provided to the Government at the end of Round III. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round III shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $750,000.

Round IV. Operational Test and Evaluation in Multiple User Scenarios: Additional prototypes from Round III with detailed operating instructions will be provided to the Government during Round IV. The Government or a non-Government partner (under an NDA) will test and evaluate the prototype in multiple operating environments as selected by the Government or the non-Government partner. The performer will assist in these tests and evaluations as requested by the Government. SBIR funding (if available) for Round IV will require non-SBIR government funds included as a 1:1 Cost-Match for any amounts over $500,000. The number of end users and prototypes required, as well as the operational scenarios to be run are not yet defined. Therefore, this option is currently unpriced.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Round IV delivers a fully functional prototype or product with detailed operating instructions to the Government and non-Government partners (e.g., Electric Boat shipyard) for evaluation in real-world environments. Round IV may result in a limited number of licenses or purchases of the prototype or product to allow for testing in various conditions and by multiple end users. The resulting technology will be of significant interest to the commercial sector for acoustic control in personal close-quarters and for machinery noise abatement.


1. “Night Noise Guidelines for Europe.” World Health Organization Report, 2009. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43316/E92845.pdf

2. Fleet Sheets Custom Bedding Co. “Size Guide”, https://www.fleetsheetsusa.com/pages/size-guide

KEYWORDS: Acoustic; Noise; Sleep; Materials