Royal Navy to Deploy Big Data on Destroyers

Type 45 destroyer (courtesy Royal Navy)

By MarEx 2016-07-22 20:53:43

As commercial shipowners contemplate whether to go with Big Data solutions to analyze shipboard information, they can look to the Royal Navy, which has elected to deploy a system developed by BAE to track the functioning of the Type 45 Daring-class destroyers. 

The new tool, called System Information Exploitation, can process vast amounts of shipboard sensor data and then relay it to shore over secure networks for monitoring and support. The Navy says that this allows shipboard and shoreside personnel to watch the condition of the vessel's equipment and prepare for port calls. 

BAE program staffer Matt Albans said that the software "is like having an automated watch-keeper able to record and analyse vast amounts of data on a constant basis."

"As the system does this in real time, we can identify potential faults and resolve them before they become an operational issue," he explained. "Having the capability to predict when small problems could eventually impact a naval ship’s performance is extremely beneficial to the Royal Navy.”

The highly integrated Type 45 has suffered from repeated problems with blackouts, leaving propulsion, weapons and navigational systems without power (one officer described the problem as "total electric failure"). The lead vessel in the class suffered engine failures in 2010 and again in 2012, and defense chiefs recently told the UK Parliament that the ships are unable to operate reliably in the high temperatures of the Persian Gulf as built; beginning in 2019, the class will undergo a refit to "upgrade the ships' diesel generators to add greater resilience to the power and the propulsion system.”

System Information Exploitation will monitor the Type 45's equipment, notifying crew of "immediate and potential issues,” BAE said in a statement. “By fitting a black box to each ship, capable of recording 10,000 samples of data per second, BAE Systems and the UK Royal Navy will gain a clearer understanding of component performance and those most prone to failure."

All six of the destroyers will be fitted with System Information Exploitation by next year, and the Royal Navy intends to purchase it for the future Queen Elizabeth-class carriers as well. BAE did not mention whether it had been slated for inclusion in the indefinitely-delayed Type 26 frigate or would be installed in the Trident SSBN replacement program.

The U.S. Navy is also exploring Big Data options to make use of the massive volumes of information its fleet generates every day. In March, the Office of Naval Research awarded a contract to Charles River Analytics for a "Navalytics" software suite as part of its Tactical Cloud Reference Implementation, which is intended to give the service networked access to sensors, data and analytical tools.