High Sea State Automated Deployment and Retrieval of Towed Bodies from a Small Surface Platform
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-058
ONR - Ms. Lore Anne Ponirakis - loreanne.ponirakis@navy.mil
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-058 TITLE: High Sea State Automated Deployment and Retrieval of Towed Bodies from a Small Surface Platform

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Ground/Sea Vehicles

OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a prototype system for automated deployment and retrieval (D&R) of a towed body from a small surface platform in a high sea state.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy is developing towed underwater systems that are deployed and retrieved (D&R) from surface vessels. D&R of these underwater systems is sea-state limited, due to wave-induced relative motion. This topic focuses on the "near-field" challenges of D&R of a tethered underwater body, the period of time during which the towed underwater body and surface vessel are in close proximity and on managing/mitigating the relative motions to minimize chances of collision and damage. It also focuses on automation of the D&R process, the ability to cross-deck the D&R system between various surface vessels, and analysis of mechanical stresses of D&R system and deck loads. The key technical risk is the motion between the 2 platforms. This topic solicits innovative approaches that employ, for example, state-of-the-art computational modeling, short-term platform motion forecasting algorithms, mechanical and inflatable structures to minimize impacts of a collision and automated D&R. The Topic will focus on surface craft of 7-12 m in length operating in SS 4 and towed bodies of 300-2000 lbs. In addition, the ability to operate with a freeboard of up to 6 meters is of key importance due to future desire to operate the D&R system from a larger surface vessel.

Several previous projects have addressed the problem of automated D&R of a Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) from a USV, for example, STTR N07-T037, and the ongoing ONR Single Sortie Detect-to-Engage program. These have made progress in far-field capture of the UUV and recovery of the UUV on the USV in low SS or in higher SS with a human in-the-loop. This topic extends the previous work to high SS, which is a technically challenging problem, and addresses the issue of D&R from platforms with high freeboard.

PHASE I: Develop a concept design for a D&R system according to the parameters listed in the Description section. Perform modeling and simulation (M&S) for an initial evaluation of design concept. Phase I deliverable shall include a report describing: (1) the concept design, (2) performance predictions, (3) the M&S approach and results, in view of the considerations in the Description section. Phase I Option, if awarded, could address initial work in preparation for building a prototype in Phase II.

PHASE II: Fabricate and demonstrate the operation of a prototype D&R system in on-water tests. Phase II deliverables shall include: (1) the prototype system, (2) the detailed design, and (3) a report describing on-water test approach and results.

PHASE III: As part of the transition program, conduct in-depth on-water validation of deploy and retrieve prototype using transition programís towed asset and participate in a Fleet Experiment. Phase III deliverables shall include a report describing on-water test approach, metrics and results.


1. Automated Launch and Recovery of Small, Untethered Unmanned Underwater Vehicles from Unmanned Surface Vehicles, http://www.dodsbir.net/sitis/archives_display_topic.asp?Bookmark=30457, accessed 12 Jun 2013.

2. An Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Launch, Recovery, and Onboard Handing and Servicing System (LROHSS) for use with Unmanned Surface Vehicles, https://www.navalengineers.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/2010%20Proceedings%20Documents/Launch%202010/Selzler.pdf, accessed 12 Jun 2013.

3. USV Payloads for Single Sortie Detect to Engage (SS-DTE) Mine Counter Measures, Solicitation Number: ONRBAA12-018, https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=b693f0517649f4b737ad96292ebd2c7d&tab=core&_cview=0, accessed 12 Jun 2013.

KEYWORDS: Deploy and retrieve, surface vessel, towed payload, sea state-induced relative motions

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