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AN/BSQ-5 Towed Buoy

NRL began development of a towed communication buoy for SSN (637 class) submarines in the late 1960s. Major improvements to the diesel buoy design were required to ensure compatibility with SSN use including:

  • A hydrodynamic design for operation below the surface to reduce wake.
  • A significant increase in operational and survival speed.
  • A foldable mast antenna so that the buoy could be stowed within the outer hull.
  • Electronics upgrades for compatibility with new comm systems such as FLTSAT.

The first SSN towed buoy was developed under the Buoy Integrated Antenna Submarine (BIAS) Program, managed by NAVELEX (now the Naval Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command). The first BIAS buoy was installed on the USS Pogy (SSN 647) in 1971, using communication components from the AN/BRA-27 development.

A much improved communication capability including FLTSATCOM, secure voice and IFF modes was integrated into the Pogy installation in 1974 and the system was given the designation AN/BSQ-5 (XB-1). The Pogy installation was used to demonstrate and validate numerous submerged communication capabilities including:

  • SSIXS Satellite communications at depth and speed,
  • HF Surface wave COMMS at beyond LOS,
  • Power control techniques to minimize intercept vulnerability,
  • Coordinated ASW with a P3-C using UHF LOS,
  • Long haul HF COMMS,
  • Secure voice for HF and UHF.

SSN buoys operate below the surface, even when the faired, multi-function mast antenna was deployed above the water. As a result, SSN buoys could operate at much higher speeds than previous types and with less visible wake. They also had considerable communication capability:

  • Receive Only Capabilities
    • VLF (9 kHz - 50 kHz).
    • LF (50 kHz - 200 kHz).
    • MF (500 kHz - 2 MHz).
  • HF Band (2-30 MHz)
    • Continuous Frequency Coverage 2 - 30 MHz 500 Hz channels.
    • Transmitter Power Control 0.01 - 100 Watts.
    • Voice and data capability including secure voice.
  • UHF Band (225-400 MHz)
    • Continuous Frequency Coverage 225 - 400 MHz - 25 kHz channels
    • Transmitter Power: 100 Watts
    • Voice and data capability including secure voice.
    • Satellite capability including SSIXS/OTCIXS
  • IFF Capability
  • Navigation Capabilities
    • LORAN
    • NAVSAT (Transit) at 150/400 MHz
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