Technology Today

2012 Issue 2

Synapsis Command Bridge - Integrated Navigation and Bridge System combined with command & control (C2) technology for the protection of coastal waterways

Synapsis Command Bridge - Integrated Navigation and Bridge System combined with command & control (C2) technology for the protection of coastal waterways

Today's modern navies face new challenges. While there continues to be a need to maintain readiness for traditional conflicts, navies must also be prepared to counter smaller and more volatile threats, such as those posed by pirates, warlords or terrorists, often operating from remote locations.

To counter these asymmetrical threats, large ships with complex combat management systems (CMS) are often deployed. These systems must be operated by a large number of well-trained and experienced personnel located in the ship's combat information center (CIC). This level of response, however, can be an inefficient and sometimes inappropriate use of resources. Smaller vessels (e.g., patrol boats generally less than 60 meters in length) may be more suitable for countering these threats, but the navigation and control equipment on such vessels typically consists of various highly specialized individual or loosely integrated components from different suppliers. This makes it difficult to achieve an acceptable level of operational efficiency under the control of a single operator, or even a small crew.

Figure 1

To fill this gap, Raytheon Anschütz GmbH — one of the world's leading manufacturers of integrated naval bridge systems and nautical equipment — has introduced an integrated, scalable navigation system using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment (Figure 1). The new bridge system provides patrol boats — those without the resources of a large ship — with the integrated navigation and C2 capability needed to appropriately handle a broad range of threats. This includes the capability to acquire, integrate, analyze and act on data from multiple sensor systems including tactical radars, the maritime automatic identification system (AIS), electro-optical (EO) sensors (high definition television [HDTV] daylight camera, infrared [IR]-night sight and laser range finder), sonar, electronic support measures (ESM) sensors and classic navigation sensors. The Synapsis architecture is the world's first navigation system that has been type approved according to the International Maritime Organization's new performance standards for Integrated Navigation Systems (INS).

Figure 2
Deployment Scenarios

The deployment scenarios for the Synapsis Command Bridge are varied. In general, a distinction is made among civil, police and military tasks. Correspondingly, the configuration and function of the bridge can be adapted to the deployment profile of the vessel. This means, for example, that the Integrated Navigation and Bridge System can be equipped with or without a weapon function. The range of tasks enabled by the system is illustrated in Figure 2.

Civil and Police Tasks

For reconnaissance and coastal protection, or for action by harbor police, individual patrol boats can be directed from a land station via tactical radio data transmission to particular coastal areas for monitoring or examination. Suspicious contacts can then be designated directly on the situation display and the information distributed across the data network. The integration of video images from the on-board camera system with on-board radar data and data transmitted from local area radars on land, commercial vessels or yachts, enhances situational awareness. Approaching ships, personnel or, in general, objects of any kind are detected and traced. When set limits are exceeded or preset safety zones are violated, an alarm can be programmed to sound or appropriate countermeasures (e.g., the creation of a water curtain using a water cannon) can be initiated.

Interdiction and Military Tasks

For police interdiction and military tasks, the baseline software package — radar, Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), conning (display of navigation sensor data/alarms) and the integration of navigation sensors and steering control — is extended to include additional functions such as command and control, electro-optic sensor control and processing, and weapons control.

The Synapsis Command Bridge configuration can include integrated tactical track management, a tactical database, a small target tracker and an optical tracker with a calculation of the fire control solution for weapons engagement. All of these systems can be operated by the Synapsis Command Bridge. Additional stand-alone consoles for the camera or the weapon systems are not necessary because all relevant elements are already included.

In most cases, all data from the optical tracker is sent directly through the bridge system. This leads to a short time delay between picking up new track information and sending it to the weapon. When there is a need to further minimize the time delay between the sensor (camera) and the weapon, the sensor can be linked directly to the weapon. This may be used, for example, to engage very fast targets such as aircraft.

A significant advantage of this system is its flexibility. At any time, individual components can be added to or removed from the integrated navigation system to create customer-specific solutions. The starting point is the integrated navigation bridge. All other hardware and software components can then be integrated into this baseline capability.

The RiverHawk Advanced Multi-mission Platform

Raytheon Anschütz has recently tested and delivered the Integrated Navigation and Bridge System to outfit a new class of reconfigurable offshore patrol vessels, the RiverHawk Advanced Multi-mission Platform (AMP-45), developed for U.S. domestic and international customers. The AMP-45 (Figure 3) was developed by RiverHawk Fast Sea Frames of Tampa, Fla., in partnership with Raytheon Anschütz.

Figure 3

The AMP-45 features a compact, efficient ship layout for operation by small crew sizes (generally a two-person bridge crew), and it is equipped with the systems needed for exercising national and multi-national maritime security responsibilities throughout the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The RiverHawk AMP series incorporates design features focused on mission performance, reconfigurability and low life-cycle cost.

The Synapsis Command Bridge features a new generation of intelligent multifunctional workstations that combine nautical functions such as radar, chart radar, ECDIS and conning, and also permit the integration of additional applications and data. Its scalability makes it perfectly suitable to meet any ship type requirements — from a basic system to more advanced systems that comply with the new integrated navigation system performance standards. The Command Bridge can be paired with additional shipboard functionality — such as the ship's network, communications and control systems — to offer a total integrated shipboard electronics capability. It may also be integrated with a full combat management system on larger platforms to provide seamless situational awareness between combat and bridge operations.

Matthias Buescher and Dr. Thomas Lehmann

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