Novel Composite Submarine Hatch Materials and Construction Methods
Navy SBIR 2010.1 - Topic N101-065
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: December 10, 2009 - Closes: January 13, 2010

N101-065 TITLE: Novel Composite Submarine Hatch Materials and Construction Methods

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Ground/Sea Vehicles, Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS399 SOF Undersea Mobility Programs - ASDS and DDS

OBJECTIVE: Develop composite watertight materials and fabrication methods that can be used in submarine and submersible hatches capable of withstanding pressures of up to 1,000 PSI (threshold) and 1,100 PSI (objective).

DESCRIPTION: U.S. Naval submarines and submersibles require watertight hatches that are capable of withstanding significant pressures without leaking or failing. The standard steel hatch design has complex linkages, handwheel assemblies, locking rings, etc. that secure the hatch, but are not intended to be exposed to seawater. This hatch design is adequate for standard submarine operations, but is inadequate for many submersible operations, such as locking divers in and out of the submersible. In many cases, the internal components of the hatch are subjected to continual immersion in seawater. This has led to a maintenance issue due to significantly higher corrosion rates and seawater washout of lubricants. A novel composite hatch material and fabrication method is sought that would allow a composite hatch assembly to be capable of withstanding significant pressures on either side of the hatch without leaking, while simultaneously increasing the corrosion resistance and decreasing the weight of these hatches.

PHASE I: Perform basic R&D to determine the most likely candidate materials and fabrication methods that can be used to construct composite hatches capable of withstanding pressures on either side of the hatch without leaking or failing. Actual submergence pressures vary greatly. For this SBIR effort (as a proof of concept only), the composite materials must be able to resist pressure differentials up to 1,000 PSI (threshold) and 1,100 PSI (objective). Demonstration of the ability of the materials and fabrication methods proposed to withstand higher pressures will be considered an additional benefit, but is not required during this SBIR effort. Demonstrate by engineering analysis that the materials and design concepts are scalable to a full-scale submarine hatch design.

PHASE II: Conduct proof-of-concept testing in a laboratory environment of the most likely candidate materials and fabrication methods evaluated in Phase I. Implement and verify the design and concepts from Phase I in full-size prototype hatch designs. Demonstrate in a laboratory environment the ability of a scale model hatch designed and built using these materials and methods to effectively create a watertight seal and withstand these pressures without leaking. Determine through testing the fire resistance, impact resistance and pressure resistance of this new composite material. Perform full-scale laboratory testing, including long term pressure cycle testing, UV and fire resistance testing to assess the ability of a full-scale hatch fabricated from these materials and methods to resist damage from exposure to the environment. Develop one final Engineering Development Model (EDM) hatch capable of being installed shipboard.

Vendors shall submit a business plan for the commercialization of the technology developed under this topic. The Small Business Administration's website provides guidance, examples, and contact information for assistance.

PHASE III: Conduct shipboard testing and suitability analysis of the EDM system, including shock and vibration testing. Validate safety and watertight integrity of EDM system in a true at-sea environment. Develop commercialization, and transition plans for full-scale shipboard implementation. Develop technical and user manuals, end-user training programs, logistics/ repair support plans, and troubleshooting and repair guides. Conduct initial end-user training and operator certification.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This technology would have applicability to any industry where the requirement to form a watertight (or airtight) pressure boundary exists, and where weight is also a critical concern. This includes the commercial submersible industry, as well as the airline and space industries.

REFERENCES: (Note to offerors: References are provided for general information and not to suggest approaches. Offerors are expected have among the proposed personnel (which, in addition to the small business could include consultants and/or subcontractors) the knowledge and experience necessary to tackle the task.)

1. NASA Tech Briefs. Submarine Design Certified on FEA and Sensor Testing. April, 2006.

2. Atlantis 1. Submersible Structure.

3. Tanguy Messager, Mariusz Pyrz, Bernard Gineste, and Pierre Chauchot. "Optimal laminations of thin underwater composite cylindrical vessels," Composite Structures, Volume 58, Issue 4, December 2002, Pages 529-537.

4. Tanguy Messager, Pierre Chauchot, and Benoit Bigourdan. "Optimal design of stiffened composite underwater hulls," III European Conference on Computational Mechanics Solids, Structures and Coupled Problems in Engineering, 2006.

5. Osse, T.J., Lee, T.J., "Composite Pressure Hulls for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles", Proceedings of OCEANS 2007 Publication Date: Sept. 29 2007-Oct. 4 2007.

KEYWORDS: composites; hatches; submersibles; pressure; submarines; corrosion

DoD Notice:  
Between November 12 and December 9, 2009, you may talk directly with the Topic Authors to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting December 10, 2009, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (10.1 Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the SBIR 10.1 topic under which they are proposing.

If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or email weblink.