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Adaptable Boat Launch and Recovery System



OBJECTIVE: Develop technology required to handle an array of different hull forms and vessel types in boat bay launch and recovery system. 

DESCRIPTION: There is a Navy-wide need for a common vehicle launch and recovery mechanism among ships without a well deck. Currently, surface ships without a well deck each have a different method of launch and recovery, and are driven toward a specific craft. A common launch and recovery system that can launch and recover a variety of craft instituted on all surface ship platforms will be a great benefit in both cost and mission capability. The Navy desires a system on board the Zumwalt Class guided missile destroyers (DDG 1000) to manage the deployment and retrieval of a variety of craft or other assets from the boat bay to the sea and back to expand the capability of the ship class in support the Navy’s future needs. Current launch and recovery systems for boat bays are designed for specific craft, not allowing for damage-free interface when new or modified craft are developed or there is a desire to be integrate. Detailed interface requirements between craft and launch and recovery systems are not established to prevent craft damage. Use of emerging technologies such as new spatial awareness sensors may make it easier to accommodate a wide array of craft. The current system consists of three parts: a fixed section, a pivoting section, and an extendable ramp that provides boat handling and stowage for two 11m Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). It is important to note that this is not a wet deck, meaning the space does not flood. The current design will only handle 11m craft. The fixed section is the forward most piece in the boat bay and acts as a RHIB stowage location. The following (pivoting) section acts as a stowage location for a second RHIB; is the launch mechanism; and tilts up enabling the RHIB to slide down to the third component of the system. The “extendable ramp” provides a path for the RHIB to slide from the interior of the boat bay over the doorsill and into the sea. Components of the system must be capable of withstanding a seawater environment. While not a wet well, the components mounted on the deck must be submersible rated. The launch and recovery system must be able to launch and recover the following craft: Craft 1) Navy Standard Willard 11m RHIB Craft 2) Length: 38.5 feet, Beam: 10.5 feet, Weight: 23,000 pounds Craft 3) Length: 41 feet, Beam: 9 feet, Weight: 2, 5000 pounds Craft 4) Various types of Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) on demand. This system must be designed to be operable with a maximum of five Sailors in the boat bay and to be able to launch and deploy craft in seas up to sea state 5. DDG 1000 is a minimally manned vessel; the automated operation of a launch and recovery system will reduce labor cost to the Navy. The reliability of components designed for use in a salt-water environment will require less frequent maintenance than the current system. The following Physical Limitations of the Boat Bay compartment must be taken into consideration when designing a launch and recovery system: Dimensions of the boat bay opening (door) and the bay itself: a. Boat Bay Door - Trapezoid Shape Bottom Width: 5200mm Top Width: 3842mm Height: 5000mm The boat bay door is about 6 inches above the waterline. The ship must be able to transfer boats in and out of the boat bay with the water line +/- 20 inches. b. Boat Bay Length: 27.25m, Width: 6m, Height: 6.6 m. 

PHASE I: Develop a concept to transport a variety of vehicles in and out of DDG 1000 using the specifications in the description with no limitation on how the mechanism should function or what any components should look like. The concept will be judged by the transport’s ability to transfer the vehicles specified in the description without damage and not require more than five Sailors to operate. Demonstration of feasibility will come from calculations to verify management of the load and a 3D physics-based computer model showing a concept of operation. The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan. 

PHASE II: Based on the results of the Phase I effort and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver a prototype to demonstrate capability at a scale to be defined during Phase I. The demonstration will take place at the small business facility and will include transferring mock up vehicles referenced in the description. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD) Little Creek will provide the vehicles for the demonstration. The demonstration will be judged on the ease of installation, ability to transfer the loads in the description without damage, and the ability to execute the system with five or fewer persons. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial Craft Handling System design. Provide drawings, installation and maintenance instructions. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy and potential commercial use. 

PHASE III: Support the Navy in evaluating the scale system delivered in Phase II. Based on analysis performed during Phase II, recommend test fixtures and methodologies to support environmental, shock, and vibration testing and qualification. The small business and the Navy will jointly determine final system design for operational evaluation, including required safety testing and certification. Provide a technical work package to enable the system installation on board the DDG 1000 utilizing the test results and any lessons learned from the prototype testing in Phase II. Potential usage of the system include other Naval Ships, Coast Guard, commercial ships that carry an array of cargo with different dimensions, and other logistics arenas such as warehouses and factories. 


1: "Proceedings of the 2016 Launch & Recovery Symposium." American Society of Naval Engineers.

2:  "Proceedings of the 2014 Launch and Recovery Symposium." American Society of Naval Engineers.

3:  Hanyok, Lauren W. and Smith, Timothy C. "Launch and Recovery System Literature Review." Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division, Hydromechanics Department Report NSWCCD-50-TR-2010/071, December 2010.

4:  Kimber, Andy. "Boat Launch and Recovery – A Key Enabling Technology For Flexible Warships." Pacific 2012, Sydney, Australia 31 Jan-3 Feb 2012.

KEYWORDS: Watercraft Launch And Recovery; Boat Launch; Ship Launch And Recovery System; UUV Launch And Recovery; USV Launch And Recovery; Shipboard Boat Deployment 


Mr. Steven Kubacki 

(202) 781-5130 

Michael Lutkenhouse 

(202) 781-4321 

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