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Through-the-Hull Data Transfer


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems, Ground Sea, Sensors 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a low size, weight, and power communication link that will operate across the pressure hull of a submarine. 

DESCRIPTION: Hull penetrations on a submarine are always of concern as potential paths for seawater ingress, and any new system requiring additional hull penetrations is unlikely to be developed or adopted unless it supplants an existing system that is deemed less important under some particular circumstance. A readily available method of creating a non-penetrating communication link through the hull will support novel sensor development and adoption with fewer concerns and associated costs. A threshold capacity of 1000 bits/sec would have utility, but two order of magnitude better data rates are desired. Possible modalities include Electromagnetic and Acoustic. 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 Security Service (DSS). 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 project as set forth by DSS and ONR 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 advanced phases of this contract. 

PHASE I: Develop initial concept design and perform an analysis of the expected performance of the communication system including the details of the communication modality, modulation, and expected performance envelope to include available bandwidth and bits per joule efficiency. Conduct an analysis supported by component level testing. Include in the design: plans for form factor, adhesion to the hull, and the power and energy strategy. Develop a Phase II plan. 

PHASE II: Develop a prototype through-the-hull communication system. Demonstrate capacity and other performance metrics using actual transmissions of data. Perform an analysis that includes efficiency as function of bandwidth and expected endurance as function of duty cycle. Develop a production design, including size, weight, power, and costs estimates, as well as complete system performance predictions and evaluations to include capacity estimates under a variety of environmental conditions and ranges. SECRET clearance may be required for Phase II. It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details). 

PHASE III: Install and test a functioning through-the-hull communication system on an operational submarine to include sending relevant information through the hull that would not otherwise be immediately available. Determine the capabilities and limitations, and obtain end user feedback that can be used to improve the system under a spiral development strategy. A dual use application of the technology could be in the oil and gas pipeline industry. 


1. The Fleet Type Submarine, Maritime Park Association Version 1.11, 19 Oct 07, 2013.; 2. “Instructions for the Installation, Care and Use of the SUBMARINE BATHYTHERMOGRAPH.” Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, Washington, D.C., 1943.

KEYWORDS: Communication; Undersea Warfare; Submarine; Underwater Networks; Sensors; Pressure Hull 

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