Technology Today

2011 Issue 2

Operation Nanook –
A Demonstration of Raytheon's Situational Awareness and Decision Support System for Arctic Monitoring and Prediction

Climate changes in the Arctic are leading to increases in commercial shipping, oil and mineral exploration, commercial fishing, tourism, research and other related activities. The U.S. Navy is the lead U.S. Department of Defense component focusing on climate change and its impact on the Arctic region. The growth of these activities requires new capabilities to execute the Navy's missions of international cooperation, homeland security, maritime domain awareness, environmental monitoring, humanitarian assistance, disaster response, search and rescue, and support to civil authorities.

In response to these needs, Raytheon developed a situational awareness and decision support demonstration prototype software solution — Raytheon Arctic Monitoring and Prediction (RAMP). RAMP was deployed aboard the U.S. Second Fleet's naval destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) during the Canadian Operation Nanook 2010 exercise.

The RAMP prototype incorporates environmental data obtained from a suite of remote sensors (satellites, radars); autonomous sensors (data buoys, unmanned vehicles); and manned sensors (shipboard, coastal observing stations). It integrates computer-based ocean and atmospheric models with geophysical data points to provide the user with an accurate near real-time graphical display of a specific Arctic location for a given date and time. RAMP also monitors and evaluates multiple environmental factors, providing trends, analysis, prediction and decision support to aid in the safe navigation of a vessel by indicating, for example, ice-free areas and optimal shipping routes.

Operation Nanook

Operation Nanook1 is an exercise conducted each year by the Canadian Forces (CF) in Canada's North. Operation Nanook 2010 was a joint operation conducted with the participation of personnel, ships and aircraft from the Canadian Army, Navy, Air and Special Forces. The 2010 exercise also included international participation from the U.S. Navy's 2nd Fleet, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Danish Navy.

The 2010 exercise took place from Aug. 6–26 in Canada's eastern and high Arctic area as far as 75° North in Baffin Bay. It included two major components: a military exercise that focused on maintaining sovereignty, and a whole-of-government exercise that focused on environmental containment and remediation resulting from a simulated fuel spill.

Figure 1

The Arctic occupies by far the largest area of responsibility for the CF, spanning across 40 percent of Canada's total land mass and 75 percent of its coastal regions. The Arctic monitoring and prediction system was developed to provide a vessel commander with a comprehensive and improved understanding of the current and predicted Arctic physical environment. This is achieved by integrating, correlating and analyzing data accumulated from a wide variety of accredited sources in order to provide situational awareness and decision support for both tactical and operational missions. In addition, the software was required to provide current and future weather information and oceanographic data in an integrated visual format.


The RAMP solution has been developed using a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The SOA defines interfaces in terms of protocols and functionality and permits the integration of widely disparate applications and sensors into a Web-based environment, and supports multiple implementation platforms.

The architecture is illustrated in Figure 1. The core of the system is Raytheon's uFrame™ (universal framework) SOA that is the basis for the U.S. National Weather Service Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) II program. Key features of the uFrame SOA include an extensible, flexible, tailorable, rapidly configurable framework that enables rapid plug and play of new data types, models and sensors. It also geospatially aligns information to enable layering and analysis and includes gaming-style visualization to manipulate and interact with the data.


RAMP software continuously monitors environmental conditions in near real time. It is designed to rapidly integrate, visualize and analyze a wide variety of data based on end-user needs. For the Nanook 2010 exercise it was configured to ingest data from the following sources:

  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery (TerraSAR-X).
  • Advanced microwave scanning radiometer (AMSR-E).
  • Canadian Ice Service and U.S. National Ice Center (NIC) image analysis charts, called "egg charts."
  • Historical ice data (1870 to present day).
  • Weather observations.
  • Ship locations collected via satellite.

The software was then used to transform this data into knowledge.


In support of the Nanook 2010 exercise, the Arctic monitoring and prediction software was configured to provide near real-time SAR and MODIS data overlays. It also provided multiple data sets, such as MODIS, SAR, AMSR-E, ice data, weather observations and ship Automatic Identification System (AIS) locations to be integrated onto a single screen. This unique collection of data allowed the commander to see the "big picture" and make appropriate decisions in an informed and timely manner.

The RAMP display allowed the operator to quickly see ocean conditions at night as well as in foggy and overcast conditions. RAMP software also calculated the shortest, safest path based on ice conditions, ocean depth, ship size and hull strength, thereby assisting in the safe navigation of the vessel through icy and shallow waters.

Figure 2

The RAMP protoytpe demonstrated how disparate data could be fused to provide decision support.

This fusion is demonstrated in Figures 2 and 3. Figure 2 shows the USS Porter in St. John's Harbor, Newfoundland, Canada, on Aug. 1, 2010. The low overcast conditions seen in the picture were typical of the environmental conditions experienced throughout the exercise. Cloud cover and fog prevented ocean imaging through the use of traditional electro-optical sensor collection.

Figure 3 shows sensor collections from Earth Observation Satellite MODIS and the TerraSAR-X, X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar. The MODIS ice/snow image on the left shows cloud cover over eastern Newfoundland, with the TerraSAR-X SAR image of the St. John's Harbor area geolocated and overlaid. The right side shows the cloud-penetrating surface imaging available when using the TerraSAR-X sensor.

Figure 3

Being able to provide these images to the vessel commander and to the NIC in a timely manner demonstrated a new level of situational awareness, enabling a ship without an ice-reinforced hull to safely participate in the Nanook 2010 exercise and effectively perform its mission.

The prototype RAMP solution was operationally deployed onboard the USS Porter for the period of the Nanook 2010 exercise and it was shown to be an essential asset for operation in the far north. Work is underway to provide additional capability in support of future exercises, including potential deployment on other participating vessels.

1, Modified: 2011-02-17


Tony Ponsford, Bob Bowne

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