NUWC Division Newport Demos Swimmer Defense System

Friday, October 05, 2007
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Newport provided a demonstration on Sept. 20 of an integrated swimmer defense system currently being developed in Narragansett Bay off Newport, R.I. The system could be used to provide harbor security, protection of Navy vessels and other high value assets. Using lightweight active sonar, radar, and electro-optic and infrared sensors as detection and engagement subsystems, the system is designed to identify and thwart potential hostile surface swimmers, divers and divers assisted with diver propulsion vehicles. "Once we've detected these threats, we have to do something to engage them because their mission is to destroy the high value asset," said James Pollock, Director of Homeland Defense Programs, NUWC Newport. "The underwater sensors are typically active sonar devices that put acoustic energy out into the water. That energy is reflected back off of all the surfaces that are out there. We then process the information and take action." That action may range from a basic voice alert to a blast from an underwater air gun that produces 2,100 pounds per square inch of pressure and forces divers to the surface. "It gives the diver a good thump," said Pollock. As a result of its relative mobility, the system is being tested for use by expeditionary forces. Sailors from the Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare (MIUW) Unit 202, based in Newport, assisted with the demonstration by operating the consoles and providing feedback on the system's ergonomics. "It gives us more tools for the toolbox," said Cmdr. Scott Burleson, commanding officer, MIUW Unit 202. "We go out with different systems and different sensors and anytime we get something new from a technology perspective, it's going to help us." As the technical agent responsible for supporting the Navy's Anti-Terrorism Afloat Program Office to acquire an Expeditionary Integrated Swimmer Defense System, NUWC Division Newport has been working on the system for more than a year, Pollock said. Prototypes could be used in the fleet within the next two years.
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