Wireless Sensing to Improve Submarine Machinery Health Monitoring

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-033
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 18, 2021 (12:00pm EDT)

N211-033 TITLE: Wireless Sensing to Improve Submarine Machinery Health Monitoring

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Networked C3

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground / Sea Vehicles

OBJECTIVE: Develop a solution that can wirelessly monitor and transmit shipboard machinery data to provide an easy means of collecting data on an operational platform to enhance machinery health monitoring.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Navy does not currently employ autonomous continuous based machinery monitoring and predictive maintenance systems aboard fleet platforms – current methods although broadly effective may be infrequent, labor intensive, prone to measurement error and may delay actionable information to decision makers. Current methodologies in the submarine fleet, for example, employ periodic, hand-held, wired machinery vibration measurements to provide predictions of machinery failure.

The Navy is thus seeking a broad range of emerging technologies that take advantage of commercial advances in sensor development, Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics as applied to machinery data to develop digital twins that allow for Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) of assets. Monitoring the current and expected future states of these systems will allow the Navy to more effectively maintain their platforms through an increased awareness of system health. Furthermore, maintenance planning is better served by an increased awareness of remaining useful life of components. By analyzing the optimal mix of resilient design and onboard/forward deployed spares, this solution supports On Time Delivery by maintaining the right parts where they are most needed to support the mission, ultimately reducing life cycle costs of the program sustainment activities.

Of specific interest, the Navy is interested in the use of wireless sensing technologies that can simultaneously collect and transit machinery vibration (0 – 6000 Hz) and power data (current and voltage TBD) that are in conformance with naval platform operational restrictions. Although this technology has been demonstrated in academia, there is no commercial application of such technology aboard current Navy platforms.

Use of wireless sensing technologies will provide an easier means of collecting and storing data from a broader range of sensors when compared to similar wired solutions. The small business should develop a combination of software (sensor proprietary if necessary; COTS telemetry infrastructure) and hardware that would allow for collection of data from shipboard machinery and wirelessly transmit this data to an onboard storage or display device.

The solution should allow for a minimum of two simultaneous sensing modalities – mechanical vibration and machinery power attributes – to support monitoring of machinery health. Additional sensing modalities could include temperature, pressure, or acoustics depending on the type of machinery monitored. The developed sensor should be able to obtain power at its installed location source and should not require cabling to a remote power source. Solutions that do not require human intervention, i.e., replacement of batteries, are preferred but not required. The solution could, but is not required to, be applicable to either manned or unmanned platform. However, the solution will be required to communicate data securely from the sensor to the storage medium on board the submarine.

While the solution provided by the company will be used to support the development of digital twins for Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM), CBM solutions are not required to be provided as a deliverable. Rather the vendor should focus on developing a modular infrastructure that allows for secure communication between the sensor and storage location. These communication protocols will be platform dependent but include considerations such as physical access controls, power management and environmental controls and strategic/local command security protocol procedures. Size, weight and power should be constrained to not interfere with machinery operation and to operate autonomously in excess of two weeks without maintenance (e.g., battery replacement).

The Phase II effort is anticipated to include testing by the small business in an operationally relevant environment with final testing by the Navy (Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division) in a laboratory or at-sea environment as appropriate. The product will be validated, tested, qualified, and certified for Navy use across a wide range of conditions (e.g., machine operating parameters, ship depth, sea water temperature, etc.) as applicable for the relevant class of problem.

Depending on the scope of the proposal, the Phase II effort may require secure access, and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access. The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I or Phase II work.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop a concept to solve the Navy’s problem and then demonstrate the feasibility of that concept. The expected product will be a combination of hardware and software. Feasibility should be demonstrated by a laboratory bench test or a limited scale field experiment. As an example, a vendor might propose a demonstration of one modality of data being collected on a representative asset in the lab and transmitted securely to a storage device and/or display. The vendor is expected to propose concept feasibility testing as part of their proposals. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype system for testing and evaluation based on the results of Phase I work and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW). The prototype system will vary based on the awardee’s proposed approach, but it may include hardware and software. The test and evaluation hardware may be a commercial system (e.g., a commercially available vent fan), a Navy-provided system (e.g., a main seawater pump), or a combination of commercial and Navy-provided systems (e.g., an integrated life support system). The prototype will be evaluated in a Navy lab or at-sea environment. The Navy may opt to choose a surrogate platform for at-sea testing based on availability of assets. Additional laboratory testing, modeling, or analytical methods may also be appropriate depending on the company’s proposed approach. In general, two prototype articles should be provided to the Government for testing, at least three months prior to the end of Phase II. A Phase III development plan will be required at the end of Phase II.

It is probable that the work under this effort and any follow-on efforts could be classified (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use. The final product will be software integrated with Navy-provided hardware, or software integrated with company-provided hardware. The Navy expects the vendor to support transition to Phase III through system integration, testing support, software and hardware documentation, and limited hardware production if applicable. Possible platforms where the technology will be used include current and future submarine platforms. The technology must meet critical Navy requirements in terms of secure communications between the source and the storage medium onboard the platform. These may be related to WLAN security (encryption, authentication), Electromagnetic Interference (EM), radiological and hazardous material constraints, limits on total radiated power and other relevant requirements in effect at such time. In Phase III, the product will be validated, tested, qualified, and certified for Navy use in at-sea trials across a wide range of conditions as applicable for the relevant class of problem. Additional software testing will likely also be required to ensure that all applicable conditions can be tested even if they do not occur during at-sea test periods.

These solutions have potential for use on other undersea platforms such as Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) as well as a wide range of surface platforms.


  1. Green, D.; Lindahl, P.; Leeb, S.; Kane, T.; Kidwell, S., Donnal, J., "Dashboard: Nonintrusive Electromechanical Fault Detection and Diagnostics." Proc. IEEE International Automatic Testing Conference, Aug 2019, 1-7. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8961062
  2. Hodge, V.J.; O’Keefe, S.; Weeks, M.; Moulds, A., "Wireless Sensor Networks for Condition Monitoring in the Railway Industry", IEEE Trans on Intelligent Transportation Systems, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2015, 1088-1106 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6963375
  3. Hou, L.; Bergmann, N.W., "Novel Industrial Wireless Sensor Networks for Machine Condition Monitoring and Fault Diagnostics", IEEE Trans on Instrumentation and Measurement, Vol. 61, No. 10, 2012, 2787-2798 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6215047
  4. Huchel, L.; Helsen, J.; Lindahl, P.; Leeb, S.B., 2019, "Diagnostics for Periodically Excited Actuators", IEEE Trans on Instrumentation and Measurement, in-press, DOI 10.1109/TIM.2019.2947971 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8876701
  5. Moon, J.; Donnal, J.; Paris, J.; Leeb, S.B., "VAMPIRE: A Magnetically Self-Powered Sensor Node Capable of Wireless Transmission", Proc. of 28th Annual IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition, 2019, 3151-3159 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6520751

KEYWORDS: Data Analytics; Condition Based Maintenance; Digital Twin; Wireless Sensing; Predictive Analytics; Rotating equipment


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 8, 2020, which opens to receive proposals on January 14, 2021, and closes February 18, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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