TechSolutions and the Marine Corps bring a decades-old process into the 21st century > U.S. Navy > View Press Release

TechSolutions and the Marine Corps bring a decades-old process into the 21st century > U.S. Navy > View Press Release

Assessing conditions in surf zones has never been an exact science for the Department of the Navy. Thanks to a recent request to TechSolutions, this is about to change. The result is new wave observation (SUROB) technology for more accurate operational forecasts.

Determining whether conditions are appropriate to send troops ashore is critical to mission planning, but the SUROB protocols currently in place use fairly rudimentary tools to do so. Combatants estimate wave heights primarily based on visual observations, use rulers to measure water depth, and sometimes use tennis balls to determine current velocity.

“We believed we had a sensing technology that would provide a better solution for Sailors and Marines to improve the accuracy of their surf observations,” said the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global’s Rapid Response Program. says TechSolutions Director Jason Payne. We respond to warfighter needs by rapidly developing science and technology-driven solutions. ONR Global is ONR’s international division.

“We already had some tools, like satellite imagery and weather information. What the warfighter needed was to collect all the data, combine it with in-situ sensing, and fuse it into an easy-to-use format. It was a way to do it,” he said. .

For the past six months, a team of scientists and engineers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) has been developing the technical tools needed to create more accurate surf observation reports. . To gain deeper insight into how surf observation tools can improve warfighter operations, NavalX recently held a workshop that brought together scientific and engineering developers and the sailors and Marines who use them. It was held.
“I think we had 10 to 12 different and unique communities in the room for this workshop,” said David Newborn, director of NavalX’s Adaptive Warfare Center.

“Every time it happens, there’s a huge ‘aha’ moment that swings out of it. I think that happened in a few different ways in this workshop. “I think one thing happened from the user interface and the user experience,” he said. “We also think we’ve gained some important insights into how all this information – modeling, simulation, data fusion – impacts what operators actually see.”

Newborn said the workshop will help users understand what the final product will look and feel like for users, especially operators behind the wheel of amphibious vehicles and operators of rubber assault craft tillers. He added that it was very helpful in defining what should be done.

“Having something like a go/no-go or red light, green light decision support tool is more important than gigabytes of very granular current and wave data,” Newborn said. “I think the development team has reached some very important insights, such as that you don’t need to tell everything about the current, but you do need to tell whether the current is good or bad.”

“This workshop will bring the entire community of interest, the right people, into the same room,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Murphy, director of the Ground Combat Command Branch, which is leading the project at Marine Corps Warfare Laboratory (MCWL). “We were able to bring together the right quality, the right expertise and really refine what the outcome should be for the project. ”

Murphy said he has spent a lot of time at sea and is familiar with the challenges of operating in surf zones. The new His SUROB interface is designed to utilize all available sensing technologies to better inform commanders’ risk assessments.

“The data generated from video feeds and camera images depicts wave heights, breaker heights, breaker locations and their orientation, depth bathymetry, and wave conditions; It can be a rip current,” he said.

But the biggest innovation for SUROB, what Murphy called “the holy grail of this program,” is an app that Sailors and Marines can download to their laptops and tablets. The app ingests all data from all sources and produces surf observation reports that are far more accurate than what current protocols provide.

Mr Murphy said: “The purpose is to output an MSI. [Modified Surf Index], but also displays go/no-go or red, green, and yellow criteria for each type of vessel. Therefore, the user selects a vessel and, based on the situation, decides whether it is favorable, marginal, or unfavorable for that vessel type.

Mr Murphy added that the wave observation tool not only informs of various vehicle risk factors, but also allows it to adapt more quickly to changing wave conditions.

“I’ve done a lot of operations at sea where there were satellite images and shore surveys done beforehand, but the water depth at the time was deeper than they indicated,” he said. “So having sensor technology in the field and being able to use tools like this is definitely a huge help given the reality that the surface is constantly changing. It also makes it easier to work on deck. You never know when you’ll need a more accurate report for your operation,” Murphy said.

Less than a year ago, TechSolutions received a request from Maj. Zachary Taylor, a technical officer with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, for a technology-driven solution for surf observation. According to Payne, within weeks he and TechSolutions began working with the NRL and his ERDC development team, Taylor and Murphy, to create a prototype.

“We knew right away that this would be an invaluable tool for our nation’s Sailors and Marines,” Payne said. “Wave observations have to be accurate. They have to be able to adjust in real time to changing conditions above and below the water. But we told Major Taylor what was wrong with the current process. We needed them to help us improve it,” Payne said. “That’s what TechSolutions is all about.”

To submit technology requests, Sailors and Marines should contact TechSolutions directly at For more information about the program, please visit our website

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