Intelligence experts approach industry for UUV networks for covert surveillance of shipping

WASHINGTON, 9 June 2016. U.S. intelligence experts are asking industry for ideas on developing networks of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) for covert surveillance of international ship traffic in important harbors, waterways, and choke points.

Jun 9th, 2016
Intelligence experts approach industry for UUV networks for covert surveillance of shipping
Intelligence experts approach industry for UUV networks for covert surveillance of shipping
WASHINGTON, 9 June 2016. U.S. intelligence experts are asking industry for ideas on developing networks of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) for covert surveillance of international ship traffic in important harbors, waterways, and choke points.

Officials of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington issued a sources-sought notice Tuesday (IARPA-BAA-16-09) for the UnderWatch project.

The IARPA UnderWatch project seeks to use UUV networks to monitor ships and maneuver to inspect contacts of interest. IARPA is the research arm of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

The project will develop an undersea remote-sensing capability to observe a broad set of vessel types at long range, including container ships, cruise ships, commercial fishing traffic, recreational vessels, go-fast boats, and self-propelled semi-submersibles, IARPA officials say.

Related: Not just for the Navy: unmanned surface vessels (USVs) in wide use for surveillance at NOAA

The world’s oceans carry 90 percent of global trade and key waterways like the Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Malacca carry as much as 35 percent and 25 percent of the world’s seaborne oil shipments, respectively, IARPA officials say.

While the sea lanes are a vital economic avenue, they are conduits for international terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, worldwide trafficking of women and children, illicit transfer of materials for weapons of mass destruction, and arms trafficking.

The ability to monitor vessel traffic secretly from below the ocean's surface -- much the same as orbiting satellites monitor ground and air traffic -- could help federal law enforcement detect, pinpoint, and characterize maritime threats before they become disasters.

With this sources-sought notice, IARPA officials are trying to obtain information on industry's ability to perform a potential research projects on persistent remote surveillance of the world's ocean traffic. It is not a request for proposals, yet may help IARPA compile a qualified bidders list.

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From industry, IARPA officials are looking for information on the design of UUVs and UUV autonomy, communications, navigation, sensing, power, propulsion, and sensor payloads; and on UUV or manned submarine sensing for the automated detection of maritime contacts from underwater or low above the surface.

Companies interested should email non-classified responses no later than 30 June 2016 to IARPA at dni-iarpacontracts@iarpa.gov.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/notices/0894ed051e29ac4a920a7312b08d5c16.

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