The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), in partnership with Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD), Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division (NUWC KPT), and NavalX, will run a Pitch Challenge and Demo Day to identify platforms to support a critical need for the inspection bulk liquid storage systems on land (Problem Set 1), and tanks/voids at sea (Problem Set 2).
A team of subject matter experts will evaluate applicants and select up to the top 15 companies per Problem Set as semi-finalists for participation in the virtual Pitch Day in August 2022. The top 20 companies (10 companies per Problem Set) will be finalists invited to an in-person Demonstration Day and awarded $10,000 for travel and final preparations.
Two separate Demonstration Days will commence in Southern California, one for each Problem Set, during which the participants will have the opportunity to demonstrate platform capabilities. A total of $500,000 in awards will be available to the top four companies. The first place company for each Problem Set will receive a $200,000 award, and the second place company will receive a $50,000 award.
NAVSEA and NAVFAC are making significant investments in this arena, and looking to support the growth of autonomous inspection technologies in startups that can support various defense applications.
Benefits of Participating
- $500,000 in awards to the top four companies (First place - $200,000, Second place - $50,000) and $10,000 in travel costs for finalists
- Exposure to leaders across multiple branches of the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) responsible for the development and deployment of tank inspection technologies
- Exposure to Venture Capitalists (VCs) focused on tank inspection technologies
- Potential for follow-on opportunities such as Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs), Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), and others
What Type of Companies are Eligible
- US Owned and Operated Startup
- Early-Stage Ventures (i.e., little to no DoD contracts, equal to or earlier than Series A); OR non-traditional defense contractors
- With the ability to demonstrate the solution’s capabilities by September 2022
As seen in recent headlines, the US military is being tasked with responding to an ever-increasing diversity of missions. There is an urgent need for the military, particularly the Navy, to lower sustainment costs and improve readiness to support these missions. As a result, improving sustainment is a top priority for the Navy.
Aging infrastructure for land-based bulk water and fuel storage, plus the complexity of tanks and voids, presents a challenge to an already labor-strapped Navy. Over $8 billion has been spent annually for combating corrosion on our ships, aircraft, and vehicles alone. Lowering corrosion repair costs will free up needed revenue for warfighting priorities.
Inspecting this infrastructure is time-consuming, expensive, and dangerous. The unique shapes and spaces often make infrastructure access challenging for personnel and their tools. In addition to the immediate need to advance tank and void inspections, there is the mission of developing new technologies that enable ships to become more autonomous. These technologies will replace maintenance functions currently performed by crews on over 4,000 shipboard tanks and voids. These autonomous inspection tools designed to meet this challenge are also intended to become part of a larger vision of enabling unmanned ship operations at sea.
Costs for scheduled maintenance to empty, clean, gas-free, conduct wastewater disposal, build scaffolding, and inspect Navy-operated tanks can range from $20,000-$300,000. The process often takes three or more days to complete, and because it is typically a visual assessment, it provides qualitative results.
Lowering inspection costs will enable the Navy to become more fiscally efficient with taxpayer dollars. More quantitative inspections will increase cost savings. The $500,000 prize challenge encourages researchers and inventors to demonstrate breakthrough inspection technology that significantly improves quality and reduces the cost of corrosion inspection technologies and procedures for land-based bulk liquid tanks, and shipboard tanks and voids. Because this competition is focused on providing the Navy with improvements on its current products, there is a potential for follow-on opportunities such as Other Transaction Agreements and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements.
- June 20, 2022: Solicitation Release
- July 13, 2022: “Ask Me Anything” Session
- August 1, 2022: Solicitation Closes & Down-selection Begins
- August 8, 2022: Down-selection Ends & Finalists Announced
- Week of August 8, 2022: Final Rehearsals
- Week of August 15, 2022: Pitch Days Execution
- Week of September 26, 2022: Demo Days Execution
Applications and Pitches will be judged on four major criteria:
- Technical: Soundness, technical merit, innovation of proposed approach, and feasibility of the proposed solution.
- Team: Qualifications of proposed principals, support staff, and consultants.
- Commercialization: Company has a technology solution that is viable in non-defense markets.
- Quality of Pitch: Company presents a clear and concise overview of its company and technology, demonstrates how its technology solves one or more of the defined problem areas, and effectively answers questions from strategic advisors.
Naval tank and void inspections are conducted regularly to determine coating and structural conditions. These inspections are time-consuming and dangerous, yet highly critical to ensure the safe operations of important infrastructure on land and at sea. Characteristics that apply to both problem sets include: size and weight, ergonomics, and requirements pertaining to support equipment, end-user training, support personnel, and the level of pre-inspection tank preparation. The total amount of inspection time is also of interest to the Government. Potential solutions should detect corrosion, fractures, deformation, and mud or sludge build-up of the tank/void, anodes, internal pipes, and drains/suction and discharge pipes. The Government also has special interest in solutions that collect and display data, and map the tank/void to determine positional data of any detected defects.
The two main areas are the following:
Problem #1: Inspection of bulk liquid storage systems on land
NAVFAC EXWC is seeking an innovative solution to conduct examinations of steel tank bottom surfaces, including difficult-to-reach (i.e. sump, shell-to-bottom joint). Problem #1 will primarily focus on a solution’s ability to inspect water tanks. EXWC is also interested in this capability for inspecting full and empty fuel tanks and welcomes participants to address this scenario. The objective is to obtain reliable and quantitative condition data from an in-service storage tank with minimal disruption to operations. Since current examination methods are effective, NAVFAC EXWC is seeking a transformational solution that maintains the baseline and provides the tank inspector with timely, and otherwise unobtainable data. The system should be demonstrably reliable in detection and deliverable in a compact, lightweight form, appropriate for use in a floating roof storage tank. A desirable capability is for a modular payload that can be used to change or replace sensor packages quickly. On the basic level, the solution must include the following features/considerations:
- Autonomously controlled and untethered
- Suitable for the environment (hazardous atmosphere, fuel immersion (preferred), ruggedized, industrial environment)
- Retrievable in the event of mechanical or other system failure
- Capable of delivering quantitative metal loss data
- Ability to identify and mark/annotate assess tank and pipe outlets for corrosion, cracking, fractures, deformations, pitting, blisters, sludge, clogs, etc. within tanks and pipe outlets
- Store and communicate inspection data back to inspection personnel
- Non-spark producing and intrinsically safe
- Power requirements, sustainability, and battery lifespan
End user: U.S. Naval storage facilities.
Problem #2: Inspection of ballast tanks at sea
NSWC/NUWC is seeking an innovative solution to improve the quality, efficiency, and cost of inspections for shipboard compartments. Technologies that remove the need for human entry and remove the need to empty, clean, and remove gas from the tank, would be preferred. The objective is to obtain reliable, qualitative, and quantitative data on the condition of the tank/void from the technology solution. Since current examination methods are generally effective, NSWC/NUWC seeks a solution that maintains the baseline but provides an increase in quality, speed, and/or improved cost. The solution must be environmentally sound, retrievable in the event of system failure, and capable of inspecting multiple tanks/voids. The system should also be demonstrably reliable in detection and deliverable in a compact, lightweight form appropriate for use. Solutions may include, but not be limited to, robotic inspections or embedded sensors.
The following items should be considered when proposing a solution:
- Constrictive access points and limited areas of a tank
- Ability to assess overall tank condition
- Ability to distinguish corrosion levels (allows for deferrable maintenance)
- Assess the condition of ‘sacrificial’ anodes fitted inside the tank
- Ability to identify and mark/annotate corrosion, cracking, fractures, deformations, pitting, blisters, sludge, clogs, etc. within tanks and pipe outlets
- Store and communicate inspection data back to inspection personnel
- Non-spark producing and intrinsically safe
- Power requirements, sustainability, and battery lifespan
End-User: U.S. Naval vessels, Regional Maintenance Centers (RMCs), Naval Shipyards (Public and Private)
These problems are all covered in the below references:
- Memorandum for Chief of Naval Operations, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Assistant Secretaries of the Navy; Actions to Improve the Department of the Navy Sustainment
- 2018 Defense Management Study; Report to the Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate: GAO-19-39, Accessible Version, Defense Management: DOD Should Take Additional Actions to Enhance Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Efforts
- Memorandum for the Chief of Naval Operations: IMMEDIATE ACTIONS RED HILL UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS.PDF (defense.gov)
Established in 2012, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), located at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California, is a command of more than 1,100 dedicated professionals who are experts in facilities engineering, technology solutions, and lifecycle management of expeditionary equipment for the Navy, Marine Corps, federal agencies, and other Department of Defense (DoD) supported commands. NAVFAC EXWC is currently divided into three major technical departments: Oceans, Shore, and Expeditionary. NAVFAC EXWC is one of the DoD’s leading environmental centers, providing engineering, scientific, and technology support in environmental compliance, environmental restoration, pollution prevention, sustainability, and climate change. NAVFAC EXWC works within the NAVFAC Environmental Business Line, offering expert services to the Chief of Naval Operation (CNO/N45), NAVFAC, its component commands, and other supported commands. NAVFAC EXWC is also the DoD’s provider for seafloor engineering, moorings, shore-based hyperbaric facilities, and underwater cable structures. Furthermore, NAVFAC EXWC conducts specialized engineering in pier and wharf condition assessment, marine and offshore structures, seafloor surveys, and ocean construction. The command maintains NAVFAC’s ocean engineering subject matter experts in ashore hyperbaric and diving systems, specialized and fleet moorings, underwater construction, magnetic silencing facilities, underwater inspection, and underwater cable facilities. NAVFAC EXWC also specializes in expeditionary basing, tactical vehicles, mobile mission support, construction equipment, industrial production and handling, sealift support, and personal infantry gear.
About Naval Sea Systems Command’s Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD)
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) maintains technical expertise at locations across the United States: Engineering and Logistics at Port Hueneme, California; Search Radar Engineering at Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Live Fire Testing at White Sands, New Mexico. Port Hueneme Division is recognized as the Navy’s Center of Excellence for In-Service Engineering, Test and Evaluation, and Integrated Logistics Support for surface warfare combat and weapon systems. Since its inception in 1963, NSWC PHD, has been supporting the combat and weapon systems of the Fleet by providing highly skilled personnel and state-of-the-art facilities to lead the development and support of Navy surface ship warfare systems throughout their life cycles. NSWC PHD focuses its technical capabilities on Next Generation In-Service Engineering, which involves direct connectivity to the Fleet on a global basis and the immediate availability of round-the-clock access to products, services, and Fleet support capabilities. Next Generation In-Service Engineering will support predictive system failure, remote diagnostics, and corrective action via real-time, networked communications.
About Naval Sea Systems Command’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division (NUWC KPT)
With a proud history spanning over 100 years, NUWC KPT provides technical leadership, engineering expertise, and unique facility complexes that serve to ensure sustainment of undersea warfare (USW) superiority for the United States. As one of two divisions of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, NUWC KPT mission focuses on developing and applying advanced technical capabilities to test, evaluate, field, and maintain undersea warfare systems and related defense assets. These advanced technical capabilities directly support the full spectrum of Navy undersea programs. NUWC KPT’s technical complexes are recognized national assets and include over 2.3 million square feet of specialized technical facilities and nearly 2000 square nautical miles of undersea ranges. NUWC KPT’s highly trained and diverse workforce of engineers, scientists, technicians, and industrial craftsmen continue to develop, maintain, and provide technical solutions to meet Fleet material and operational readiness needs. As a part of NAVSEA’s world class team of professionals, NUWC KPT is a responsive, effective, and efficient provider to the Navy.
The Department of the Navy is proud to introduce their way of increasing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation with leading-edge tech companies and innovation partners to accelerate solutions to the warfighter. The NavalX Tech Bridges are a connected network that enhances collaboration among Naval Labs, industry, academia, and other military branches. A NavalX Tech Bridge offers a collaboration space within a commercial business space, rather than on base. An off-base location offers a more easily accessible landing spot to foster a collaboration ecosystem to build productive partnerships and accelerate delivery of dual use solutions to the warfighter. A NavalX Tech Bridge offers access to State and Local government and academic agencies creating a richer regional innovation ecosystem and further supporting economic development.
About National Security Innovation Network (NSIN)
The National Security Innovation Network is a program of the U.S. Department of Defense that collaborates with major universities and the venture community to develop solutions that drive national security innovation. We operate three portfolios of programs and services: National Service, Collaboration, and Acceleration. Together, these portfolios form a pipeline of activities and solutions that accelerate the pace of defense innovation.
Other Transaction Authority
This NSIN Propel public announcement is an open call to small businesses and non-traditional defense contractors seeking innovative, commercial technologies proposed to create new DoD solutions or potential new capabilities fulfilling requirements, closing capability gaps, or providing potential technological advancements, technologies fueled by commercial or strategic investment, but also concept demonstrations, pilots, and agile development activities improving commercial technologies, existing Government-owned capabilities, or concepts for broad Defense application(s). As such, the Government reserves the right to award a contract or an Other Transaction for any purpose, to include a prototype or research, under this public announcement. The Federal Government is not responsible for any monies expended by the applicant before award and is under no obligation to pursue such Other Transactions.
Satisfying Competition Requirements:
This NSIN Starts Open Call Announcement is considered to have potential for further efforts that may be accomplished via FAR-based contracting instruments, Other Transaction Authority (OTA) for Prototype Projects 10 USC 4003 and Research 10 USC 4002, Prizes for advanced technology achievements 10 USC 4065, and/or Prize Competitions 15 USC 3719. The public open call announcement made at NSIN.mil website is considered to satisfy the reasonable effort to obtain competition in accordance with 10 USC 4065(b), 15 USC 3719 (e) and 10 USC 4003 (b)(2). Accordingly, FAR-based actions will follow announcement procedures per FAR 5.201(b).