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Survivable Minefield Mission Data Module


OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground / Sea Vehicles


OBJECTIVE: Develop a hardened data module that can withstand blast effects from detonation of underwater explosives while preserving accumulated mission essential data from Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) systems.


DESCRIPTION: The Maritime Expeditionary MCM Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (MEMUUV) and Maritime Expeditionary Standoff Response (MESR) systems provide Navy Expeditionary forces with specialized UUV and ROV systems that deploy for search, detection, localization, neutralization and disposal of naval mines and underwater improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Mines and IEDs are often detonated by acoustic and magnetic noise from ships and subsurface platforms in the vicinity and by UUVs and ROVs conducting time-intensive mine and IED clearance operations in undersea environments. Although UUV and ROV platforms are not deployed as expendable platforms, they are susceptible to and not sufficiently hardened against inadvertent arming and detonation of a mine or IED while performing clearance missions. The blast effects from an inadvertent detonation may result in loss of essential mission data accumulated during hours of UUV/ROV operations. Mission data collected during a single, 20-hour sortie may result in an accumulation of up to 10 terabytes of data. Wireless data transfer bandwidth limitations for expeditionary platforms (typically between 5 kilobits per second up to 150 megabits per second) preclude real-time data exfiltration from the platforms; most mission essential information must be downloaded post-mission.


This STTR topic seeks to develop a compact, survivable “black box” mission module to collect mission data prior to a detonation. The solution must preserve the data and allow system operators to retrieve the data post-detonation. Data preservation can occur either by retrieval of the module or via secure wireless data transfer following an underwater explosive detonation event occurring within 10 meters of a 2500-pound TNT-equivalent net explosive weight (NEW) object on the seabed in up to 300 meters of water depth, which could result in total loss of a UUV or ROV platform. The module must have interface capabilities to facilitate recovery or autonomous data transfer and must be designed to protect the module and information from recovery by adversaries.


Aircraft flight recorders are not suitable in size, nor in the types of mission data they collect as a survivable mission module for undersea platforms; however, the basic concept is the same. There are currently no known solutions for preservation of mission essential data from UUV missions. Mission data collected on objects in the water column and on the seabed, including accumulated geo-referenced imagery up to the point where a mine explosion which destroys or incapacitates a UUV, is important for time constrained clearance operations. Proposed concepts must be compact for integration into small, volume-constrained UUV and ROV systems without adversely impacting trim, balance, or hydrodynamic performance of the platform. Size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints will vary depending on design concept. A self-contained module should not exceed 20 cubic inches in volume (e.g., a ~1 inch diameter x 6 inches long cylinder). Weight/mass should enable a neutrally buoyant solution in seawater. For a completely self-contained hardware solution mounted externally to a platform, a neutrally buoyant, hydrodynamic form factor must be sufficiently small and streamlined as not to add drag or impact platform endurance while maneuvering. Additionally, concepts must be powered independently. Power endurance requirements vary based on the concept for data retrieval; however, proposed solutions should have sufficient power and longevity to enable recovery while also being able to erase data if not recovered. If lithium chemistry batteries are proposed as a component of the independent power system design, solutions should incorporate batteries which have previously been certified for Navy shipboard use, storage and transportation in accordance with NAVSEA Instruction 9310.1, or should include evaluation of battery safety suitability within the scope of the proposed concept validation. To align for successful future transition following a successful demonstration, concepts should consider hardware and software solutions that will either satisfy or be easily adaptable to satisfy cyber security compliance for DoD/Navy use in accordance with DoD Instruction 8500.1 and Department of the Navy Cyber Security Policy compliance (SECNAVINST 5239.3C of 2 May 16).


Testing of the key performance parameters and key system attributes will be performed in a relevant environment to verify that the task objectives were met. To demonstrate some aspects of the technical performance (e.g., survivability of large explosive charges), modeling and simulation coupled with technical analysis is deemed an acceptable approach.


PHASE I: Develop an innovative concept for a blast-survivable mission data module that meets the design constraints listed in the description. Establish feasibility by modeling and simulation, analysis, and/or laboratory experimentation, as appropriate.


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 of the survivable data module compatible for demonstration and characterization of key performance parameters, key system attributes, and objectives. Conduct testing of the key performance parameters and key system attributes in a relevant environment to verify that the task objectives were met. To demonstrate some aspects of the technical performance (e.g., survivability of large explosive charges), consider modeling and simulation coupled with technical analysis. Based on lessons learned in Phase II through the prototype demonstration, a substantially complete design of the data module should be completed and delivered that would be expected to pass Navy qualification testing.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use through system integration and qualification testing of a survivable mission data module. The final survivable minefield mission data module product will need to conform to all specifications and requirements. A full-scale prototype will be operationally tested at sea and certified by the Navy.


Innovative concepts offer a broader opportunity for use of a “black box” solution across many military activities collecting and transporting high value sensitive data, on autonomous subsurface and surface platforms, at risk of being destroyed in the course of their mission.



  1. Keevin, Thomas and Hempen, Gregory. “The Environmental Effects of Underwater Explosives with Methods to Mitigate Impacts.” Army Corps of Engineers, St Louis District, August 1997.
  2. Secretary of the Navy Innovation Awards; “The Expeditionary MCM (ExMCM) Company: The Newest Capability in U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Community.” July 2017.
  3. Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5239.3C dated 2 May 2016. (Department of the Navy Cyber Security Policy).
  4. NAVSEA Instruction 9310.1B dated 13 Jun 1991 (Naval Lithium Battery Safety Program).


KEYWORDS: Mine Countermeasures; Survivability; Unmanned Undersea Vehicles; Remotely Operated Vehicles; Mines; Improvised Explosive Devices.

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