Development of Lightweight and Low Cost Advanced Structural Materials for Off-board Surface Vessels (OBVs)

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Navy
Contract: N00014-07-M-0021
Agency Tracking Number: N064-021-0417
Amount: $69,951.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2006
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: N06-T021
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
Suite 1880 841 Bishop Street, Honolulu, HI, 96813
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Jeffrey Kline
 Vice President Naval Arch
 (410) 544-0210
Business Contact
 Gabe Zee
Title: Vice President - Contract
Phone: (808) 531-7001
Research Institution
 James W Rawlins
 118 College Drive #10037
Hattiesburg, MS, 39406
 (601) 266-4781
 Nonprofit college or university
The Navatek, Ltd. Team will successfully demonstrate the feasibility of using Fiber Reinforced Composites (FRC) materials to significantly reduce the weight of the (hull) structure of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). We will use as a baseline for comparison our entrapment tunnel monohull (ETM) hullform. This hullform was selected by the Navy to satisfy the LCS (Flight 0) Spiral Alpha ASW Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) Mission System. This program is in support of Program Executive Officer, Littoral and Mine Warfare Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules Program Office (PMS 420). For this STTR program we will directly compare the performance and cost benefits of an FRC composite hull system to that of the current Friction Stir Welding (FSW) aluminum hull USV. The composite hull will afford an increase in payload capacity of the USV while still fitting in the allocated footprint of the LCS stowage cradle. This additional payload will support either an: (1) increase in propulsion system horsepower and towing capacity across the speed regime; or an (2) increase in fuel load to support longer endurance missions. Additionally, the use of advanced composite materials will be evaluated for: 1. ballistic protection of mission critical subsystems; 2. improved shock and fatigue characteristics; and 3. reduction in recurring unit production cost (UPC). With these goals in mind, we have structured the Navatek Composite USV Team, with an emphasis on relevant experience and successful performance on major DoD maritime platform programs where a similar application of composites was introduced. Our team is comprised exclusively of small businesses and universities through Phase II execution. Navatek serves as Prime Contractor and provides the Navy’s LCS Flight 0 USV platform hull design. Navatek will also provide system integration efforts to ensure LCS USV mission interface requirements are satisfied. Material Sciences Corporation (MSC) will provide composites engineering design and testing services to transition our baseline aluminum hull design to one of composite. The primary consideration will involve designing the hull structure to meet the current LCS USV performance specifications. The School for Polymers and High Performance Materials at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will conduct research and development to improve the performance and durability of composite materials for USVs. Furthermore, USM will investigate material systems critical to shock damping of mission critical equipment on board the USV. Seemann Composites Incorporated (SCI) will focus on developing an advanced manufacturing approach utilizing the SCRIMP Process and CNC technology to greatly improve manufacturing efficiency and quality of finished products. Our commercialization plan includes General Dynamics Robotic Systems (GD RS) to ensure the successful development of a full-scale prototype USV capable of operating on the Littoral Combat Ship. General Dynamics Robotic Systems (GD RS) serves as the Prime Contractor for the Navy’s SPAWAR ASW USV Mission Program. BENEFITS: A spiral upgrade from aluminum to a Fiber Reinforced Composites (FRC) hull structure will offer significant benefits to the LCS Mission Modules Program Office. Specifically, reducing the current hull structure weight affords a larger weight fraction for propulsion, fuel or payload. The increased towing capability will facilitate a common USV platform to support all planned ASW and MIW towing missions. The added fuel load will extend the USV mission availability by offering greater reach (faster speeds and longer ranges). Additionally, by incorporating ballistic protection into the composite hull structure for mission critical components (engine, command and control, navigation) the USV would be more survivable in support of USV SUW missions where there is high probability of disabling small arms fire. The combined effect of these additional capabilities will provide a common USV platform for all three missions (ASW, MIW, SUW) and therein increase mission effectiveness and affordability for both the USV and the LCS.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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