Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) At-sea Fueling
The Navy has an emergent need to refuel USVs immediately upon launch from LCS, without putting a sailor onboard the USV. To meet that need, a robust simple system was developed during Phase I using mostly COTS components. The system accomplished the objective simply by making the fuel connection before the USV is launched and released the connection remotely when the off board fueling was completed. The objective for the Phase II effort has expanded to include the ability to remotely fuel USVs from the LCS without recovering them onto the LCS, approximately every 12 hours. This will require a fueling system that can be connected and disconnected remotely. Having the ability to make the remote connection also opens the potential to refuel the USV at the mission site from a ship of opportunity without returning to the LCS. The work to be performed under the Phase II Base contract is the development of a breadboard model of the manned connection/unmanned release fuel connector. The breadboard model of the manned connector will be evaluated and refined in the laboratory and the performance will be demonstrated in the Mockup of the LCS 1 & 2 Mission bays. The 1st Option will add the capability to remotely connect the fuel connector. Breadboard models of the unmanned fuel connector will be mounted to rolling carts: one will simulate the USV and the second the fueling platform to which the fuel funnel is attached. A winch will be mounted to the fueling platform to pull the USV into position so that the fuel probe can be extended to engage the fuel connection. The laboratory performance of the unmanned fueling system will be demonstrated to the TPOC and Program Office. The 2nd Option will waterproof the fueling components developed for the laboratory demonstration of the unmanned USV fueling in the 1st Option so that they can be used for in-water development of the system. Power supplies and a wireless link for the control functions will be integrated into both of the floating platforms. The fuel platform will be towed in the water so that the tow stability can be evaluated and adjusted to perform through a range of seastates. The surrogate USV will be towed behind the fueling platform connected by the winch cable. The winch will pull the USV into position so that the fuel probe can be extended into the fuel funnel. An iterative process will be used to test and refine operation of the unmanned fuel connection system in increasing sea states and tow speeds. The completed system will be demonstrated to the TPOC and Program Office. The resulting unmanned USV fueling system is expected to increase the availability of both the USV and of the LCS.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Maritime Applied Physics Corporation
1850 Frankfurst Avenue Baltimore, MD -
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