Over The Shore Messenger Line Delivery System

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-047
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-047 TITLE: Over The Shore Messenger Line Delivery System

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments

OBJECTIVE: Develop autonomous Over the Shore (OTS) refueling capabilities to make an initial connection to shore without putting manned surface craft in the surf zone. Develop a messenger line delivery system that will enable rapid and minimally manned deployment of OTS refueling hose systems.

DESCRIPTION: The first and most difficult aspect of delivering Navy fuel OTS to support Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) is to make the connection from vessel to shore. For some new OTS systems, this is done with a messenger line using legacy line delivery methods that are complex, delay system deployment, and require additional manpower. Kinetic line firing equipment does not have sufficient range to reach from the fuel delivery vessel to shore. Deploying craft in the surf zone is manpower intensive, dangerous, and subject to surf restrictions. The currently fielded system uses craft that are large and difficult to store and maintain as capabilities to be readily available from a smaller fuel carrying vessel.

Multiple technologies exist that may safely and easily deliver the messenger line to shore, but need further development to be adapted to this specific application. The delivery system must be capable of handling the forces acting on it by the messenger line and survive the littoral environment from the vessel to shore at distances up to 2,000 feet. Some level of automation should be customized for this application to further reduce manpower requirements for system deployment. The system should not require physical human interaction after deployment and until the messenger line is received by shore side personnel or equipment and the system has confirmed that the line was received.

A successful concept will enhance OTS fuel delivery capabilities, reducing deployment time, manpower requirements and complexity while increasing personnel safety, reliability, efficiency, range, accuracy, and overall performance. The concept should demonstrate the potential to be applied to any ship or fuel carrying asset designed to provide OTS fuel delivery.

The OTS Messenger Line Delivery System must provide the required tension to pull a 6mm High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (HMPE) messenger line a minimum of 2,000 feet autonomously from ship to shore in less than 30 minutes to within a 3ft radius of a specified marked point and confirm that the messenger line has been received by shore side personnel before returning to its point of deployment. The system design may directly pull the messenger line from ship to shore or may pull a pilot line to allow shore side personnel to reel in the pilot line and tow the messenger line. A pilot line must withstand 500 lbs of tension with a safety factor of 3-5 to survive open ocean sea state 3, associated surf state conditions, currents of 2 knots, and winds up to 35 knots in a corrosive marine environment in air temperatures from -40 to 140ºF and water temperatures from 29 to 95ºF. The system should be fully deployable by two or fewer people. Demonstrate capability to successfully complete three consecutive deploy, deliver, return cycles with necessary maintenance performed by two or less people in 10 minutes or less between each cycle. Support the Navy’s testing in a relative environment to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PHASE I: Develop a messenger line delivery system concept to transfer a messenger line from a host vessel to shore at distances of at least 2,000 feet, meeting the objectives stated in the Description.

The concept development effort shall consist of an analysis of alternatives for the delivery system, a breakdown of major system components, a rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost estimate for prototype development, a detailed concept of operations (CONOPS), and a discussion of how automation will be optimized to reduce manpower requirements. Show feasibility through analysis, modelling, simulation, and testing.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II, along with identification of long lead materials.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II SOW, develop and deliver a full-scale prototype for evaluation in a representative environment demonstrating capabilities as listed in the Description. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW and the Navy requirements for the OTS Messenger Line Delivery System. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into a mature design that will meet Navy requirements. Assess integration and risk and develop a Software Development Plan (SDP). Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use, including a cost estimate for Phase III.

The Phase II Option, if exercised, will include further testing of the prototype system deployed on a Navy vessel.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. Refine an OTS Messenger Line Delivery System for integration and evaluation to determine its manufacturability and effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

Line firing guns, the current technology used to deliver messenger lines from ship to shore, are commonly used in many industries, including utilities, fire and rescue squads, commercial fishing, shipping, and oil companies. Technology developed during this effort could potentially be introduced in any of these industries as an alternative with longer range and more capabilities than line firing guns.


  1. "Drones in T&D: Today’s Benefits, Use Cases, and Best Practices for Drones in the Electric Transmission & Distribution." Measure, November 25, 2020. https://www.measure.com/drones-in-transmission-distribution-utilities.
  2. Naval Company Inc. Bridger Line Throwing Gun. December 30, 2020. https://www.navalcompany.com/navalproducts.htm.

KEYWORDS: Unmanned; Surf Zone; Rapid Deployment; Messenger Delivery Line; Autonomous; Fuel Delivery


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

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