Manned boats too–“Sealartec Demonstrates Autonomous Launch & Recovery System for USV” –Naval News

Boat operations, launching and recovering small boats from cutters, are one of the most frequent, and most dangerous, routine coast guard operations. Naval News reports successful sea trials of a system designed to allow fully autonomous launch and recovery of both manned and unmanned craft. It appears to include a cradle.

“Based on a patented technology in the fields of robotics and algorithmic, Sealartec has developed an innovative robotic system for the launch and recovery of unmanned vessels. The system is capable of recovering any manned or unmanned vessel up to sea state 6. It includes an innovative, hydrodynamic floating structure with robotic capture device and an autonomous processes control decision making algorithm. This combination allows safe recovery at severe sea conditions while in motion, with higher safety standard.”

Novel Davit/Cradle System

NavalNews reports successful tests of a launch and recovery system (LARS) planned for a future class of Mine Countermeasures vessel for the Netherlands and Belgium Navies.

They claim impressive capability, an ability to launch and recover unmanned surface vessels in up to sea state five or a swell amplitude of four meters. Our requirements for the Offshore Patrol Cutter included the ability to launch and recover boats and helicopters in State Five seas, but I don’t believe that included the upper limit of Sea State Five. Boat operations are bread and butter to the Coast Guard so we probably would want to keep an eye on developments in the field.

This is what the Future Belgian & Dutch MCM Motherships will look like. The vessel is 81.4 meters in length with a beam of 17 meters. (Weapon on the bow is a 40mm.)

Fatal RHIB Accident

Ens. Sarah Mitchell, 23, of Feasterville, Penn., died from injuries sustained during small boat operations July 8, 2018. (Navy)

Navy Times reports the results of a fatal RHIB accident. There are a whole string of potential lessons to be learned from the accident and how the aftermath was handled, such as how to recover injured personnel from the water.

“Vestdavit to equip Norwegian Coast Guard’s Next Gen Polar Vessels” –News Release

Earlier we talked about the Norwegian Coast Guard’s new large (9,800 ton) ice strengthened patrol vessels.

(These will be very large, about twice the size of a Bertholf class National Security Cutter and about three times the size of the ships they will replace. Because the Norwegian Coast Guard is structured as part of their Navy, other than a single logistics ship, these will be the largest ships in the Norwegian Navy.)

Now we have a report on their choice of boat handling equipment, in the form of a news release from Vestdavit. Not surprisingly they are using Vestdavit equipment, as they have consistently used equipment from this manufacturer, but it also appears, they, like many recent designs, will provide a multiple boat hangar or garage amidships, and for this they will employ Vestdavit’s MissionEase multi-boat transfer system

Vestdavit “MissionEase” launch and recovery system

Each vessel will come complete with one telescopic TBD-10000L davit system plus two PLR-5003KV units, built to Vestdavit standards for minimum availability of 330 days a year up to upper Sea State 5, based on actual North Sea conditions 1958-2018. In line with the areas of operation envisaged, the davits will be winterized for full functionality in temperatures as low as -25deg C, as required in the Polar Code.

These systems should also permit launching of unmanned surface and sub-surface systems.

In addition,

The Vestdavit PLR-5003KV units also specified within the contract are A-frame, all-steel davits with a 5 ton SWL, which will feature Vestdavit’s wave-compensation system and shock absorber system. The solution will feature 50m/min lifting and lowering speeds. The units installed are designed to handle FRBs of up to 8.5m in length..

Vestdavit A-Frame All-Steel Davit seen here on HMNZS OTAGO (P-148)

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

NAIS for Command and Control/”The USCG RDC & Electronic Aids To Navigation”–Marine Link

Marine Link has an excellent overview of the increasingly useful Nationwide Automated Identification System (NAIS) and the R&D Center’s role in its development.

As for the Coast Guard’s own use of the system, we have this press release from FLIR.

WILSONVILLE, Ore., October 16, 2018 – FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) announced today that it has been awarded a contract from the United States (U.S.) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in support of the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) Second Generation Automatic Identification System (AIS-2) program. The indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a ceiling value of $9.9 million to provide second generation Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders, associated peripherals, and spare parts for nearly 1,774 boats and 282 cutters in the USCG’s active fleet.

The government anticipates the purchase of vessel class-specific kits and spare parts to equip all USCG vessels with AIS-2 over the next five years.

“We are pleased to provide AIS hardware and software technology to support the US Coast Guard’s mission,” said Jim Cannon, President and CEO at FLIR.  “Our technology will provide enhanced levels of secure communication and coordination between Coast Guard boats, cutters, and shore stations (emphasis applied–Chuck). This award further extends our technology partnership with the Coast Guard, providing next-generation communication capabilities to complement their Raymarine SINS-2 navigation systems.”

I was a little surprised to see reference to secure communications in conjunction with AIS because I don’t associate those two things, but it is apparent we are finding new uses for the system, including as a blue force locator.

It looks like we will be putting these systems on even our smallest boats. Ran across a study that may provide an indication (Note this is apparently a Russian URL) of where we are going with this.

Ship’s Motion Prediction

MarineLink reports that General Dynamics Applied Physical Sciences (GD-APS) has developed a capability to predict ship’s motion for the navy.

“…These continuously updating ship motion predictions can then be used to inform the timing of ship operations. Although maximum forecast time varies with sea condition and vessel speed, the FutureWaves system has been demonstrated to provide accurate, phase-resolved wave and ship motion forecasts to several minutes into the future.”

“The system also produces a directional power spectrum of the ocean waves, a map of where the wave energy is coming from and at what wave period. This wave spectrum data is fed to the ship motion model to produce a plot of the statistical representation of the ship motions as a function of ship heading and speed, allowing selection of ship orientation to minimize particular modes of motion. This planning tool is continuously updated from the radar-calculated directional power spectrum, and can also be fed wave spectrum forecast products to inform longer term planning.”

This could be useful to the Coast Guard in conducting boat and helicopter operations.

This system should also be capable of providing warning of rogue waves allowing the ship to turn so as to minimize the effect and alert the crew to prepare for it.