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Boat Barrier

There is a need to protect military ships from attack by explosive laden watercraft traveling at high rates of speed. Such explosive laden watercraft may include commercial power boats, small military craft and pleasure craft. These boats are generally less than forty feet in length, have a weight of around 10,000 pounds and travel at speeds of up to 52 knots. The small watercraft threat may be defined as watercraft which have a kinetic energy threshold of approximately 1,000,000 lb-ft and are capable of achieving a kinetic energy of 2,000,000 lb-ft.

Plans were put in place to prevent small-boat terrorist attacks against Navy ships, such as the USS Cole (DDG 67) incident in the Port of Aden, Yemen. Post-Cole, the Navy increased its physical security posture on all assets to include those homeported here in the San Diego bay. Navy policy now mandates certain physical security requirements be in place to protect these assets. On October 27, 2000, in response to that attack, Secretary of the Navy Danzig directed the establishment of a Department of the Navy Antiterrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) Task Force to review force protection procedures and identify further actions that could be taken to enhance the force protection posture of Naval forces worldwide. By early November 2000, each of the Fleet commanders had identified near-, medium-, and long-term steps to boost AT/FP measures.

Several of the Fleets' responses identified the need for enhanced waterside security measures and systems, including boat barriers. These and other AT/FP recommendations were validated by the OPNAV staff, and some of these requirements - including those related to boat barriers - were provided to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service [NCIS] Law Enforcement and Physical Security Department, at the time known as NCIS Code 24, for execution. Code 24 and contractor personnel conducted site surveys starting in late 2000 and worked to identify available options for boat barriers.

Two types of Boat Barriers were available as of 2003. The DUNLOP Ship Fender Barrier System is an 8 foot diameter rubber inflatable fenders at a cost of $951 per linear foot. The Port Security Barrier (PSB) is a pontoon with nylon net catch system at a cost of $800 per linear foot.

Naval forces such as the reserve Naval Coastal Warfare and the Coast Guard Port Security Units are challenged to provide continuous surveillance and force protection to hundreds of facilities in the US and overseas. Current fixed systems being deployed such as the traditional log boom, the Port Security Barrier, and the Dunlop Ship Fender Barrier System require heavy cranes and tugs to install and maintain. These systems are expensive to install and maintain.

The barriers made by Dunlop Inc., are inflated cylinders of a rubber-coated textile, measuring 82-feet long by eight-feet in diameter. They are linked together or to a mooring buoy. Within the barrier system, gates have been created to allow for the transit of naval vessels. This effective interdiction will provide operational termination of the attack, by damaging or entangling the boat, or delaying the boat's progress until security forces can arrive on the scene.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center tested the effectiveness of the Dunlop Floating Barrier system for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Antiterrorism-Force Protection Division in May 2001. The testing included computer modeling that was verified by full-scale testing of the barrier against a threat boat. The units were successful against the threat for which they had been designed. Though the Dunlop COTS solution, which was a British system already in use by the Royal Navy in Scotland, had limitations, it did demonstrate success against certain small boat threats and was ultimately adopted. However, it was thought prudent to enhance the design, making the units larger and more robust to combat a broader range of threats. Dunlop anti-terrorist boat barrier systems are currently being installed around the world.

The Dunlop inflatable anti-terrorist boat barrier is a cost effective and highly visual deterrent. Its design is such that it can be adapted to any port situations, naval, or commercial and also for the protection of land based assets which are vulnerable to sea attack, for example coastal nuclear power plants.

The units currently being manufactured are of 25m length and 2.4m diameter. They operate at around 70mbar (1Psi) and are shackled together with buoys and anchor systems at pre-determined intervals. The gap between the buoys is dependant upon geography, climate and tides etc.

In June 2003 Naval Criminal Investigative Service [NCIS] initiated a criminal investigation following both the receipt of allegations of improprieties in the procurement of the Dunlop Floating Barrier along with indications from discussions with General Services Administration [GSA] that it was preparing an audit report that would be critical of the procurement procedures for boat barriers. There were multiple irregularities with regard to execution of the boat barrier procurements. Some poor decisions were made by a handful of Navy personnel who were, for the most part, seeking the most expedient means of effecting the procurement and deployment of the boat barriers in order to meet urgent Fleet requirements, the expectations of Navy seniors, and the certainty of fiscal year deadlines. A single individual, doing business as P-CON, was under contract to the Navy as a security consultant to advise on the requirements for boat barriers. He also was employed as a subcontractor to the two prime contractors, in which capacity he received a fee for each task order he handled. In essence, he both helped specify requirements for affected installations and profited from the purchase of barriers slated for those installations. NCIS presented this case to the offices of three separate US Attorneys for potential prosecution and civil action between April 2004 and June 2007. The first declined prosecution, and the second recommended that NCIS consider other options.

According to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), the barriers that were procured were in use at five CONUS and five OCONUS locations as of early 2007. Of the 667 barriers that were originally purchased, 535 remain deployed today, with a further 75 in useable condition in the Navy's inventory - a total of roughly 91 percent.

Port security barriers in the past have generally consisted of low freeboard float lines or log booms that mark a restricted area. However, these port security barriers are not capable of halting a deliberate attempt to penetrate the barrier. There are also higher freeboard barriers fabricated molded plastic or inflated rubber tubes that will prevent penetration of watercraft of very limited size and speed into a port which harbors military ships including aircraft carriers, destroyers, supply and troop transport ships and the like. However this type of barrier is not effective as a deterrent to larger bomb laden watercraft operating at speeds of 50 kts or more.

Further, there is a need for a port security barrier which will survive wind, waves, currents, storms and other natural adverse conditions which occur at sea. Also, the port security barrier should be environmentally friendly, that is, not dangerous to marine life and the marine environment including, for example, corral reefs.

SeaFence, LLC developed a proprietary concept to stop fast moving surface threats in support of seaward force protection. GD-OTS will be the prime contractor and system integrator responsible for system development, qualification, manufacturing, and maintenance. SeaFence uses a new approach to stopping an attacking fast boat which is fundamentally different from the methods currently employed. Current systems are designed to stop a boat by absorbing and dissipating the boat's kinetic energy within the barrier system. This approach requires a massive and/or complex barrier structure. SeaFence uses a simple net and sea anchor system to plunge the boat into the water therefore using the water to absorb the kinetic energy. The resultant system is a light weight, low cost system that is rugged, easily deployed and maintained. It will be light enough to be deployed, including moorings, by one small boat with as few as a two-man crew.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:56:49 ZULU