Navy seeks real-time data tool to detect threats at sea

Hassan Ammar/AP

The system would alert officers to unusual ship patterns.

The Navy wants a real-time analytical tool that scoops up data from radars and detects hostile threats at sea, documents reveal.

The tool would pick up on unusual ship patterns and provide alerts to Naval officers. Although a preponderance of radar systems are observing and tracking maritime traffic, there is no software available that intelligently spots enemy tactics, such as whether a cluster of vessels are converging on a target, the Pentagon notes.

In the first phase of the project, selected partners will have to identify algorithms that analyze data picked up by radars and electro-optic maritime classification tools. The second phase involves demonstrating that the tool is able to process government-provided maritime data. In the third phase, the technology will be transitioned for use by agencies and industry, documents indicate.

Preemptive strikes by naval groups reduced global pirate attacks in the first quarter of this year, according to a report released last week by the International Maritime Bureau watchdog group. But while Somali incidents have dropped compared to the year-ago period, Nigerian pirates are expanding operations.

Naval ships are especially vulnerable in narrow, congested straits. “International law and freedom of navigation allow vessels to operate in very close proximity to our combatants,” the military contracting documents note, “With a host of stationary and seemingly randomly moving boats, determining a hostile action in a timely manner is difficult at best.”

The solicitation officially launches May 24. Proposals are due June 27.