Battelle develops new technology for port security

Battelle Memorial Institute is developing underwater imaging technology to map the hulls of ships to detect weapons, mines, drugs and other items as part of an effort to protect ports.

For its Harbor Shield system, Battelle teamed with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and EdgeTech Marine to develop the scanners and underwater "hullprints" for each ship. The hullprints will be stored in a global database and updated on each entry into a U.S. port, company officials said in a news release.

"Harbor Shield is a high-end solution for maritime investigative deficiencies," said Lynn Faulkner, program manager for Battelle's Equipment Development Group. The effort is an example of the public and private sectors working together to solve a critical national security challenge, she added.

Partial testing of Harbor Shield took place this year in Narragansett Bay, R.I., and a full-scale baseline demonstration is planned for mid-2009 in the same location. Future improvements include automated imaging for easier viewing and a larger database.

Harbor Shield eventually should be capable of scanning entire harbors for every boat and swimmer and providing benchmarks of ship hull maintenance, and enhancing hull inspections for marine growth, damage and corrosion, the news release stated.

To obtain similar information, divers currently must inspect hulls, which is a time-consuming and costly process.

Battelle, of Columbus, Ohio, ranks No. 21 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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