Signal Processing for Underwater Explosion Detection and Localization

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-048
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-048 TITLE: Signal Processing for Underwater Explosion Detection and Localization

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML); Autonomy

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop innovative signal processing techniques for use with existing ultra-short baseline (USBL) arrays to supplement current detection and location estimation techniques of underwater explosions.

DESCRIPTION: In Mine countermeasure (MCM) operations, neutralizers containing a relatively small amount of explosives are deployed against naval mines. The neutralizers approach the target and are detonated, which can cause a sympathetic detonation or lower order reaction in the naval mine. Current operations require a follow-on mission to detect and localize the detonation. Innovative signal processing algorithms could provide the location of this detonation by correlating the last known neutralizer location and the expected target location. This additional confirmation would eliminate the need for time-consuming follow-on missions. Utilizing existing hardware, especially equipment already located in the operation area, such as communications buoys, would allow this capability to be integrated into the fleet with minimal impacts.

The Navy is seeking to develop innovative signal processing algorithms to utilize acoustic data collected by an array of transducers with an USBL. The company will develop signal processing algorithms and a low-power processor board to host and run the processing algorithms. The processor board is required have a form factor capable of fitting within an A-sized sonobuoy diameter, with a height not to exceed 2.5 inches. An initial desire is to not exceed plus or minus 250 yards range accuracy, and not exceed plus or minus 5 degrees bearing accuracy.

Initial testing will occur on the processor board to determine power consumption. Analysis will be performed to show how this additional power consumption would affect the system. An initial desire is to not exceed 35 W electrical power consumption, with a further desire of reducing that even lower. Testing for the algorithms and processor board will culminate in an assessment of the prototypeís ability to estimate the location at which an underwater explosion occurred. This test will be planned to occur during live fire or underwater explosion testing. Previously recorded data may be utilized for this assessment in the event that no such opportunity occurs. Additionally, the signal processing algorithms will be assessed for their ability to distinguish between the neutralizer explosion and the resulting reaction from the naval mine.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

All DoD Information Systems (IS) and Platform Information Technology (PIT) systems will be categorized in accordance with Committee on National Security Systems Instruction (CNSSI) 1253, implemented using a corresponding set of security controls from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53, and evaluated using assessment procedures from NIST SP 800-53A and DoD-specific (KS) (Information Assurance Technical Authority (IATA) Standards and Tools).

The Contractor shall support the Assessment and Authorization (A&A) of the system. The Contractor shall support the governmentís efforts to obtain an Authorization to Operate (ATO) in accordance with DoDI 8500.01 Cybersecurity, DoDI 8510.01 Risk Management Framework (RMF) for DoD Information Technology (IT), NIST SP 800-53, NAVSEA 9400.2-M (October 2016), and business rules set by the NAVSEA Echelon II and the Functional Authorizing Official (FAO). The Contractor shall design the tool to their proposed RMF Security Controls necessary to obtain A&A. The Contractor shall provide technical support and design material for RMF assessment and authorization in accordance with NAVSEA Instruction 9400.2-M by delivering OQE and documentation to support assessment and authorization package development.

Contractor Information Systems Security Requirements. The Contractor shall implement the security requirements set forth in the clause entitled DFARS 252.204-7012, "Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting," and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for the signal processing algorithms and a low-power processor board that meets the requirements in the Description. Establish feasibility by developing system diagrams as well as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models that show the concept and provide estimated weight and dimensions and computer-based simulations that show the systemís capabilities are suitable for the project needs. The ability to distinguish between the neutralizer detonation and a sympathetic detonation of the mine will also be assessed in this Phase I effort. Any limitations of the program of record USBL arrays to distinguish between these events will be documented in the Phase I effort. 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: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver a prototype system for in-water testing and measurement/validation of the Phase I performance attributes. Test the prototype system, first in a controlled laboratory environment, then in an in-water (saltwater) environment, to determine its capability to meet all relevant performance metrics outlined above and in the Phase II SOW. This test will be planned to occur during live fire or underwater explosion testing. Prepare a Phase III SOW that will outline how the technology will be transitioned for Navy use.

Provide, as part of the Phase II final report, a recommendation regarding how the product could be integrated into current programs of record. Provide an initial assessment of the space and power required for this integration.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Provide technical support for the incorporation of the signal processing algorithms and transition them for Navy use. If feasible, these algorithms may be incorporated onto existing processors onboard naval programs of record or their processor board may incorporate into the system. If incorporated into the system, the board would be required to meet all applicable system performance specification requirements of the program of record.

There is the potential to utilize the products developed under this effort in commercial applications for the monitoring of commercial fisheries, oceanic research, and the oil and gas industries.


1.       Avendano, Glen O., Paglinawan, Charmaine C., Cardenas, Jose B., Paglinawan, Arnold C., Valiente, Leonardo D., Yumang, Analyn N., Bancod, Brandon, and Carandang, Peter. "Underwater explosion detection with SMS prompt." IEEE 9th International Conference on Humanoid, Nanotechnology, Information Technology, Communication and Control, Environment and Management, 1-3 December 2017.

2.       Prior, Mark K., Chapman, Ross, and Newhall, Arthur. "The long-range detection of an accidental underwater explosion." Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

3.       Salomons, E.M., Binnerts, B., Betke, K., and von Benda-Beckmann, A.M. "Noise of underwater explosions in the North Sea. A comparison of experimental data and model predictions." The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 17 March 2021.


KEYWORDS: Underwater Explosion Detection; Acoustic Signal Processing; Ultra Short Baseline; USBL arrays; real-time processing; battle damage assessment; acoustic source localization

TPOC-1: Steve Johnson

Phone: (202) 781-1403

Email: [email protected]


TPOC-2: Theodore Smallow 

Phone: (202) 781-2026

Email: [email protected]


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on January 11, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on February 8, 2023, and closes March 8, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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