Air-Droppable At-Sea In-Water Lifting System
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-061
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-061 TITLE: Air-Droppable At-Sea In-Water Lifting System

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Ground/Sea Vehicles, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Program Executive Office for Maritime (PEO-M, USSOCOM)

OBJECTIVE: Develop an Air-Droppable At-Sea In-Water Lifting System which can be air deployed from aircraft, land in the open ocean, self-erect, and lift floating containers (international standard [ISO] shipping containers of 20 and 40 foot length) to the deck of vessels of varying freeboard.

DESCRIPTION: US national and global security interests are protected by maintaining a (1) global forward presence and (2) the ability to rapidly deploy and sustain forces in any region of the world. Geo-political vicissitudes, budgetary realities, proliferation of technologies (offensive, defensive, and detection), and expanding the Department of Defense (DoD) distributed/disaggregated operations militate the development of alternatives/complements to traditional land-based options to support US short- and longer-term, and crisis response activity. Foremost among alternatives is maritime Advanced Force Sea-Basing (AFSB)—temporary at-sea forward operating bases. AFSBs vary immensely depending on operational requirements and environments; few will be sufficiently equipped to undertake at-sea recovery of containers. In order to maximize the efficacy of AFSBs and other vessels of opportunity, the DoD requires the ability to lift ISO shipping containers floating in the open ocean to the decks of vessels of varying freeboard and configuration; the lifting system must be platform agnostic. Neither current nor state-of-the-art maritime heavy-lift systems provide the capability to support this requirement. Beyond land-based heavy-lift considerations, at-sea heavy-lift is faced with unique environmental factors, including: wave force, height, and action; current; simultaneous dual platform roll, pitch, and yaw; sea water corrosiveness; and the impact of these dynamics on lift.

The objective is to develop an in-water heavy-lift prototype capable of fulfilling the following parameters:
• Air deployable from C-130, C-5, and C-17 aircraft (to include meeting all US heavy-lift aircraft transport and airdrop parameters)
• Configurable to fit within and be air-dropped in an ISO [or smaller] container
• Self-erecting (i.e., once in the ocean, the lift system can be assembled and made ready to operate (1) without assistance from the supported platform [except final maneuvering into position adjacent to and/or mooring to the supported platform], (2) with a minimum number of personnel [not to exceed four], and (3) with support from no more than two small craft, each equipped with a maximum 1 x 35 horsepower (hp) outboard motor [or equivalent]).
• Lift capacity:
o weight: up to 20 tons
o height: up to 10 meter freeboard
• Operating conditions: operational up to Beaufort Scale 4 [winds 13 - 17 mph; wave height 3.5 - 6 ft; small waves with breaking crests; fairly frequent whitecaps]
• Recoverable and reusable
• Deployable from surface vessels

This leap-ahead technology would also have tremendous utility to other public sector, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and commercial applications.

PHASE I: Develop initial concept design and model a heavy lift system that can meet the operating and environmental criteria outlined above. Perform modeling and simulation to demonstrate feasibility; identify points of greatest potential vulnerability and demonstrate mitigation designs. Construct and demonstrate rudimentary proof-of-concept model.

PHASE II: Based on Phase I work, construct a prototype system and demonstrate: (1) operational efficacy in a maritime environment across the range of environmental conditions outlined above, meeting minimum 50% capacity thresholds, (2) air-drop, self-erect, and in-water recovery viability, and (3) cost analysis for production of 25 lift systems. Identify applications and benefits to the commercial and private sectors.

PHASE III: Conduct a full-scale scenario operational demonstration of the Phase II prototype, dropping it from USG aircraft. Integrate into the broader FNC programs to demonstrate viability across the naval force. Develop plans for scaling up manufacturing capabilities and commercialization plans.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Industry, other governmental, and NGO organizations engaged in open-ocean, littoral, and riverine marine construction, disaster response, disaster relief and recovery, maritime recovery, and marine science and exploration—conducted in countries/regions possessing or lacking developed maritime infrastructure—will benefit from this product.

1. Chief of Naval Operations Official Blog;

2. A Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century Seapower; OCT 2007; jointly released by the Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and Commandant of the US Coast Guard;

3. United States Special Operations Command: SOCOM 2020 Forging the Tip of the Spear; Admiral William McRaven, USN;

4. Naval Expeditionary Logistics: Enabling Operational Maneuver From the Sea; 1999; National Studies Board;

KEYWORDS: Heavy maritime lift; at-sea recovery; ship loading /unloading at sea; ship-to-ship load transfer

DoD Notice:  
Between December 12, 2014 and January 14, 2015 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting January 15, 2015 , when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
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