NRL team honored with the Royal Institution of Naval Architects - Lloyd's Register Safer Ship Award


8/24/2004 - 40-04r
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Dr. Frederick Williams, Dr. Susan Rose-Pehrsson, and Mr. John Farley, of the Naval Research Laboratory's Chemistry Division, in collaboration with Mr. Joseph Scheffey, Dr. Daniel Gottuk, and Mr. Gerrard Back III, of the Hughes Associates, Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland, are the recipients of the 2003 Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) - Lloyd's Register (LR) Safer Ship Award.

Dr. Williams, head of the Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability, representing the U.S. Navy, and Mr. Scheffy, representing Hughes Associates, attended the annual RINA awards dinner and ceremony in London, with more than 200 naval architects and marine engineers from throughout the world in attendance. The NRL team was awarded for their "Advanced Damage Control Technology Through Sensors, Protection Systems, and Automated Control Architecture."

The goal of NRL's award-winning project was to reduce the manpower required for damage control on Navy ships, while increasing the overall level of shipboard fire protection and safety. This goal was accomplished through development of improved fire detection technology and optimization of water mist fire suppression technology. Dr. Williams explains, "When these technologies were combined with automated fluid control systems and supervisory control systems, a quantifiable improvement in protection was demonstrated. These improvements were characterized by reduced times to detect fires and set fire boundaries, and unaffected areas remained tenable at all times." "Water mist systems were developed to cool damaged areas and control fires that could potentially spread outside the area of initial involvement," added Dr. Williams. These performance enhancements were achieved with less manpower than required when current systems, equipment, and procedures were used.

Research and development efforts of specific technologies were conducted concurrently with large-scale integrated tests. The key aspects of the concept are as listed:

  • Early Warning Fire Detection (EWFD) systems that detect fires earlier and more reliably (i.e., improved screening of false alarms);
  • Total area water mist fire suppression;
  • Area cooling using sidewall water mist nozzles;
  • Self-healing fluid systems using device-level controls; and
  • Improved situational awareness and control systems.

Dr. Williams states, "The performance of this concept in general and the individual components have been proven and documented in referenced reports and the scientific literature. The concept is now in the implementation phase."

Sensors using multi-criteria algorithms and video-based technology are being commercialized and hardened for Navy use. Damage-area water mist cooling systems are being combined with standard total area protection coverage to address battle-damage scenarios. Commercialized "smart" isolation valves are available and are being specified for both new ship designs and potential retrofit, according to Dr. Williams.

The manned firefighting response is now envisioned to be more of a salvage response to maintain tenability in unaffected areas and, over time, recover the damaged area. An aggressive, manpower-intensive direct firefighting attack will give way to more measured, preplanned response utilizing sensors, advanced fire suppression systems, and automated isolation and reconfiguration of systems. "These not only reduce overall firefighting manpower, but also provide improved personnel safety through reduced exposure of fewer personnel and more rapid response to incidents," concluded Dr. Williams.

The presentation of the award is an annual event to promote a greater awareness of the need for safer ships and to encourage innovative ideas, concepts, and procedures having a safety focus. The competition was established in 1996, and has been won by teams from the following:

  • The Royal Institution of Technology in Stockholm,
  • The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow,
  • The University of Strathclyde and Stena Line,
  • The National Technical University of Athens,
  • Hook Marine Limited, and
  • The University of Greenwich and Fleet Technology Limited.

Founded in 1860, RINA is a renowned professional institution whose members are involved at all levels in the design, construction, repair, and operation of ships, boats, and marine structures. RINA is widely represented in industry, universities and colleges, and marine organizations with a total of over 7,000 members in more than 80 countries. As well as providing corporate members with an esteemed professional qualification, RINA also enjoys an outstanding reputation for the quality and range of its technical publications, conferences, seminars, and training courses. It is a licensed and nominated body of the Engineering Council in the United Kingdom.



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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy's full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development. The Laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,800 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to meet the complex technological challenges of today's world. For more information, visit the NRL homepage or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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