News | Dec 1, 2018

Navy invents secure ship-shore data link for in-service engineering

TechLink marketing the technology to businesses for commercialization

News Article Image of Navy invents secure ship-shore data link for in-service engineering

The guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) sails in the Western Atlantic Ocean on Sept. 11, 2018. (Anthony Flynn/Navy)

The U.S. Navy has been awarded a patent for inventing a system to remotely collect and analyze equipment performance and failure data from ships at sea.

Inventors Jack Lam, Matt Ward, and Bryan Stewart earned the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, its fifth patent on August 21, 2018. Their unique technology is now available to qualified businesses for commercialization through a patent license agreement.

Beginning in 2016, the research team in Port Hueneme recognized a need to continually collect and analyze data from ships, especially data from older equipment and computer systems, so that onshore maintenance centers could provide accurate support and design improvements.

“It is a framework for us as In-Service Engineering Agents (ISEA) on how we conduct distance support and ship-to-shore data analysis for the future,” said Lam, now a computer engineer with NSWC-Corona. “The more information we can collect shore-side, the better we can help in other areas such as condition-based maintenance, distance support, product lifecycle management, and future design of systems.”

In-Service Engineering is a broad function that includes the installation of systems on ships, the certification that the systems perform as designed, and the training and qualification of the sailors that operate and maintain the systems. The engineers also oversee logistics support (training plans, maintenance procedures, spare parts) for the installed system. In-Service Engineering Agents at NSWC-Port Hueneme Division are experts in radar systems and missiles like the Tomahawk.

While some shipboard systems can be accessed shore-side, others record and store data locally, making continual data extraction challenging.

News Article Image of Navy invents secure ship-shore data link for in-service engineering

Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Mark Daylubo looks over an engineering operating sequencing system manual for the electrical plant control console in auxiliary machinery room number one aboard the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46).

Amanda Kitchner/Navy

“It usually requires a human to go to the ship, download the data, and transmit it using a DVD or hard drive,” said Ward, a research scientist at NSWC-Port Hueneme Division. “The patent allows for remote monitoring and analysis, making it the complete pipeline.”

Since the original submission of the patent, the team’s efforts evolved into a tool known as the Secure Shipboard Information Management System, which is currently being tested aboard destroyers. The near-term goal is to equip the entire surface fleet with the ability to transmit data to shore systems for maintenance analysis and ISEA development.

“This is ideal for ISEA of the future,” said Lam. “It will allow us to leverage all information on the shore- and ship-side, correlate the data sets and determine what needs to be done for improving in-service engineering.”

As fleet readiness continues to advance, data is proving to be the driving force in building the Navy the nation needs.

“Imagine a future where all of the data is easily accessible in this integrated data environment; where you can see a holistic picture of what is actually going on in the fleet right now—that is what this patent is about,” he said. “It’s the ability to take data from the ship, integrate it with other sources, and have this gigantic pool of information readily available for analysts to review, enable predictive analytics, improve distance support capabilities, and inform future design changes.”

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer, is working in support of NSWC-Port Hueneme’s technology transfer office to find the invention a transition partner (business or entrepreneur) that can make it a commercially-available product for military or private customers. Businesses can potentially acquire the technology through a patent license agreement.

To learn more about licensing this and other patented technologies from the Navy, contact TechLink’s Marti Elder at marti.elder@techlinkcenter.org or 406-586-7621.