TITLE: Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Deployed Underwater Attachment
ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Low
Observable, No Collateral Damage (LO/NCD) Neutralization FNC
OBJECTIVE: Develop a “plug
and play” inspection-class Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) compatible
non-intrusive means to attach specialized Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)
tools to underwater threat objects to enable standoff neutralization of targets
on the seabed and in the water column.
DESCRIPTION: The Navy needs
the ability to non-intrusively attach specialized Explosive Ordnance Disposal
(EOD) tools delivered by an inspection-class Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to
neutralize or dispose of underwater threat objects including naval mines and
underwater improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a standoff location.
Solutions will be designed to integrate with the Teledyne SeaBotix vLBV300 and
the Next Generation EOD Underwater Response Vehicle. Employment procedure must
not require specialized skills for human command and control beyond those
required for the employment of the associated EOD tool.
The ocean is one of the most challenging environments for underwater attachment
using adhesion and/or other mechanical means. While mechanical means provide
extremely strong bonds, many cases arise where neither welding nor mechanical
fasteners are practical. For example, welding and joining require long application
times, are noisy, create vibrations, and generally require the work of a
skilled diver. In the case of adhesives, water prevents good mating of the
adhesive with the object surface, it diffuses along the interface to assist
crack growth, it softens the adhesive, and it hydrolytically degrades the
adhesive over time. Perhaps more challenging is the presence of biofouling.
Plant and animal matter on the surface prevents contact between the adhesive
and the underlying object surface. In cases where the adhesive bonds with the
biofilm itself, the poor mechanical integrity of the biofilm leads to
detachment at small mechanical loads. Subject tools are neutrally buoyant in
seawater and emplaced on a threat object using ROV manipulators.
Underwater adhesives promise the simplicity of placing two surfaces in contact.
The process can be performed quietly and without requiring permanent
modification of the target vessel. Though commercial adhesives exist, most
suffer from two major limitations: application/curing speed and resistance to
biofouling. Two-part adhesives are most common. The polymerization initiates
when two polymeric precursors are mixed together. The speed of the cure
necessarily has to be slow in order to provide enough time for mixing and application.
Ultraviolet (UV) curing is a faster option and has the additional advantage of
being initiated by UV light after deployment on a surface. However, UV curing
can only be used with UV-transparent objects and it also fails on thicker
The Navy has particular interest in strong underwater adhesives or other
non-intrusive attachment systems that can be integrated onto an
inspection-class ROV to deliver specialized EOD tools. Potential attachment
methods must be able to be adapted to EOD tools without modification and must
not increase the influence signature (i.e., noise, magnetic, vibration) of the
ROV. The attachment mechanism must be sufficiently robust to ensure a neutrally
buoyant tool will remain in place on the target in typical, near-shore ocean
current and wave-action surge environments where horizontal water velocities on
the seabed can get up to between 10 and 14 meters per second are common.
For adhesive solutions, the desired adhesive should require that the ROV hold
the tool in place for 1 minute or less and curing times for final bonding
should be in 5 minutes or less, but only after it is deployed on a surface. It
should work on all surface types including glass reinforced plastic, aluminum,
steel, fiberglass, varying degrees of underwater biofouling (e.g. coral, algae,
etc.), and in water temperatures from 32° – 100° Fahrenheit. For bio-materials,
the adhesive should either penetrate through the biofilm to the underlying
substrate or include a built-in cleaning method for purging the biofilm during
application. The goal is to formulate an adhesive or other non-intrusive
attachment system that is fast, easy to apply, securely holds tools in place
for up to 48 hours (~8 tide changes) once attached, and can be employed by an
ROV. The development effort shall include an analysis of the feasibility of
production, storage, transport, and deployment by the ROV, including
articulation of setup time as a field-configurable payload.
PHASE I: Develop a concept
for a non-intrusive means to attach specialized EOD tools to underwater threat
objects that works on all surface types, including bio-materials, and meets the
requirements in the Description. Include in the concepts how the proposed
solution would be integrated onto the Teledyne SeaBotix vLBV300 and the Next
Generation EOD Underwater Response Vehicle. Demonstrate feasibility through
modeling and simulation. Develop a Phase II plan. 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 adhesive or other mechanical attachment system based on the results
of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), and validate it with
respect to the requirements stated in the Description. Address integration of
the prototype with the Teledyne SeaBotix vLBV300 and the Next Generation EOD
Underwater Response Vehicle. Ensure demonstration via anchoring a mock
neutralizer or specialized payload to a stationary object. Note: Phase II
demonstrations need not be performed offshore but would ideally be performed in
tanks containing ocean water to simulate marine conditions to a practical
extent, and would include current and wave-action surge conditions or simulated
conditions typical of near shore ocean environments.
PHASE III DUAL USE
APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use in
the Low Observable, No Collateral Damage (LO/NCD) Neutralization Future Naval
Capability (FNC). If successful, rapidly curing underwater adhesives and/or
other novel attachment approaches and field configurable systems for
application using a small ROV would have immediate commercial applications for
underwater repair and construction.
1. Shaw, S.J. “Adhesives in
demanding applications.” Polymer International, 41, 193-207 (1996).
2. De Bonis, D. and La Scala,
J. “Advanced Fast Curing Adhesives for Adverse Conditions.” Proc. SAMPE 2007
Conference, Baltimore, MD, 3-7 June (2007).
3. Evans, L. V. “Marine Algae
and Fouling: A Review, with Particular Reference to Ship- Fouling.” Botanica
Marina 24, 167-172 (1981).
4. Walte, J. H. “Nature’s
underwater adhesive specialist.” Intl. Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives, 7,
9-14 (1987). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0143749687900480
5. Tai, R. C. L. and
Szklarska-Smialowska, Z. “Effect of fillers on the degradation of automotive
epoxy adhesives in aqueous solutions.” Journal of Materials Science, 22,
6205-6210 (1993). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00365044
Adhesives; Non-intrusive Attachment; Explosive Ordnance Disposal; EOD; Remotely
Operated Vehicle; ROV; Naval Mine Neutralization; Teledyne SeaBotix vLBV300
** TOPIC NOTICE **
These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.A STTR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.1 BAA STTR pre-release on November 28, 2018, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2019, and closes February 6, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.
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