Unmanned Vehicle Launch & Recovery (L&R) for MK VI Patrol Boats
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-101
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Unmanned Vehicle Launch & Recovery (L&R) for MK VI Patrol Boats


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO Ships, PMS 325 Support Ships, Boats & Craft


OBJECTIVE: Develop a lightweight and cost-effective launch and recovery (L&R) system for Mark VI Patrol Boats that can be modified for multiple unmanned surface or underwater vehicles and operated in Sea State 3 (SS-3).


DESCRIPTION: The Navy is seeking a lightweight and cost-effective L&R system for Mark VI (MK VI) Patrol Boats that can be modified for multiple unmanned surface or underwater vehicles and operated in SS-3 conditions. Current typical operations require recovery of two MK 18 Mod 2 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs). The proposed system solution should be capable of recovering and stowing two units to support operations.


Navy combatant craft and boats have requirements to launch and recover various unmanned vehicles for either Mine Counter Measure missions, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, and other Navy missions. The L&R of a vehicle from a pitching platform can be challenging and dangerous in a seaway especially as conditions approach SS-3. Current L&R operations can be difficult and cumbersome, even in flat, calm conditions with increasing levels of risk beyond Sea State 1 (SS-1) due to having to launch a combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) to assist with the in-water portions of L&R. Various L&R technologies exist, from simple to complex, and are not designed to be modified for multiple unmanned surface or underwater vehicles. Most commercially available systems, such as cranes and A-frames, do not fit within the size and weight requirements needed to operate on the MK VI. The Navy seeks development of a lightweight and affordable system that launches and recovers a variety of unmanned surface and underwater vehicles from Mark VI Patrol Boats in a SS-3. Proposed solutions should not exceed the weight of the current Mark VI L&R system, which is approximately 1,650 lbs (not including UUV weight). Power source, which may be converted as needed, is 240 VAC, 15 amp, single phase maximum. Solutions should target a goal of reducing the weight by half. Proposed solutions should target a threshold cost of $150,000 and an objective cost of $75,000 per unit.


The Navy’s MK VI Patrol Craft is expected to operate in high threat environments around the globe and to provide capability to persistently patrol littoral areas beyond sheltered harbors and bays for the purpose of force protection. The most common unmanned underwater vehicles used by expeditionary forces in current use within the Combatant Craft community are MK 18 Mod 1 and Mod 2, though a wide range of UUVs are fielded and could be utilized, so the system should be open or adjustable to account for sensor placement, and appendages. These vessels as well as new assets in this family of unmanned craft will need to accommodate up to a weight of 1,200 lbs and a length of 15 ft. Unmanned system deployments may be stern launched or over the side. Operations may be required in full darkness using night vision equipment with the expected motions of an 80-foot craft beyond sheltered harbors and bays in conditions up to SS- 3. System should be designed to withstand the high impact and repetitive forces associated with high speed operations of small combatants in the described sea state. Selection of materials should consider highly corrosive marine environment. Factor of Safety of at least six should be applied to all load bearing members and machinery.


PHASE I: Develop a concept for L&R of unmanned systems for the Mark VI (MK VI) Patrol Boat that meets the requirements in the Description. Demonstrate the feasibility of the operational Launch and Recovery (L&R) system concept via physics-based modeling and simulation. Within the feasibility study, define the L&R procedure and how a multiple range of UUVs can be supported. Develop a Phase II plan. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype L&R system in Phase II.


PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype operational L&R system. Evaluate the prototype to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW and the Navy requirements for the MK VI L&R system. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and testing, modeling, and analysis. Evaluate results and accordingly refine the L&R system. Ensure that the prototyped hardware clearly shows a path to development of a sea worthy hardened system. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the L&R system to Navy use. Support the Navy in transitioning a fully hardened L&R system for sea trials to be demonstrated on a MK VI Patrol Boat or relevant vessel. Ensure that the L&R system passes an underway test to be developed for the defined test platform. Support for participation in fleet demonstration is aimed at transition with the intent to purchase and integrate the

system into the MK VI Patrol Boat Fleet. While various L&R technologies exist, they are not designed to be modified for multiple unmanned surface or underwater vehicles. Most commercially available systems, such as cranes and A-frames, do not fit within the size and weight requirements needed to operate on the MK VI. A system of this type should benefit any number of working craft in the fishing, oil, or research industries operating in the open water environment. System that may be scaled to smaller, lower freeboard craft such as US Navy standard 11m RIB would be more desirable.



1.   Eckstein, Megan. “Mine Countermeasures Evolving Towards Mix-And-Match Capabilities, Personnel.” USNI News, 25 Oct 2017. https://news.usni.org/2017/10/25/mine-countermeasures-evolving-towards-mix-match- capabilities-personnel


2.   “Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit System (REMUS).” Naval Drones, 15 Nov 2017. http://www.navaldrones.com/Remus.html


KEYWORDS: Unmanned Underwater Vehicle; UUV; Launch and Recovery of UUVs; L&R; Unmanned Surface Vehicle; MK VI Patrol Boat; Mine Counter Measure Operations; SS-3



Matt Priest







Scott Petersen







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These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.2 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.2 BAA SBIR pre-release on May 2, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on May 31, 2019, and closes July 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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