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CBRN Monitoring in the Context of Naval Vessels

Mrs. Katja Kiukas, MSc, BBA

In the current threat environments evolving worldwide, naval vessels and their crew are vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats in their offshore, littoral and harbor related activities. Although typically low in frequency and probability, the use of CBRN threat agents may lead to high consequences in the hands of well-trained and determined lone wolves, sympathizers or active members of terrorist groups. Furthermore, the recent war scenes have shown that it is not only CBRN terrorism we are dealing with. There are always risks for accidental CBRN releases to take place as a result of human activities, too.

In the worst CBRN threat scenarios, the whole fleet may become incapacitated. No matter if the threats emanate from other nations, non-state actors or accidents, or what forms they may take, improved protection and preparedness to detect and tackle CBRN threats at the early stage are vital among naval forces. On the road of getting prepared, understanding of CBRN threats, evaluating the vulnerabilities and considering the operational and instrumental needs for committing the intended missions is a good start. However, real assessment of the security measures and their effectiveness and implementation of reliable CBRN monitoring systems are the following essential steps. The needs for maintaining the selected CBRN instrumentation and competence of personnel by regular trainings shall be considered as well.

Elements of Maritime CBRN Defence

In general, effective CBRN defence in the naval context means combining of three distinct functions: monitoring and detection, protection and decontamination. Monitoring and detection are realized by implementing dedicated systems to detect the presence of and to identify the threat outside the ship and within the zones. There are a few means to protect the ship and its crew: pressurized citadels and zones with gas-tight boundaries and airlocks, and filtration of air drawn into the vessel and enclosing machinery intakes and exhausts. Decontamination of spaces within the ship is achieved by implementing suitable ventilation, filtration and pre-wetting systems. For decontamination of the crew and equipment, cleansing stations can be applied.

The modular structure of EnviScreen CBRN Monitoring Systems enables delivery of cost-effective and easily expandable solutions for customers´ existing and future needs. Environics builds its Naval CBRN Monitoring Concept upon the general detection principles and recommendations for application related special equipment and systems. It aims 1) to protect the personnel from CBRN threats and their hazardous effects by giving fast response and early-warning 2) to provide situational awareness and guidance and 3) to enable further analysis and timely and correct countermeasures at the time of threat events. Typical EnviScreen CBRN Monitoring Systems represent turnkey solutions that incorporate sensor integrations, data communication, databases, system services and user interfaces.

In Environics` naval concept, CBRN releases are typically monitored from outdoor air and/or indoor air with respective field proven system detectors. Measurement and event data from the integrated sensors is collected and harmonized by data processing units and eventually visualized in real-time on the control center computers by the dedicated system software. The proprietary software provides a graphical user interface for sensor management and for displaying event and measurement data and end user specified, event related guidance for the operators. In addition to the fixed installations, Environics supplies hand-held and portable instrumentation for CBRN detection and identification needs, as well as other system supporting components, personal protective equipment and devices and tools for decontamination.

Partner in CBRN System Design and Supply

Environics is a Finnish high technology company with solid experience in the field of CBRN detection. It has improved CBRN safety worldwide with its in-house technologies and system solutions for more than three decades. Organizations from civil defence to homeland security and military in over 50 countries have already selected Environics as their partner in CBRN threat detection.

Nowadays Environics focuses on application-based concept and product development and after sales services. Many of the success stories in CBRN system business relate especially to naval CBRN monitoring. Among other applications, Environics designs and supplies EnviScreen CBRN Monitoring Systems globally to wide range of vessel types, from environmental survey vessels and military vessels like frigates to mine hunters. To date, over 100 naval CBRN systems installations have been implemented in co-operation with leading shipbuilding companies. The recent progress in Environics` Naval CBRN Monitoring Systems include the fulfillment of the requirements of the International Association of Classification Society, proven in accredited laboratory tests.

The growing awareness of the risks caused by maritime CBRN threats and willingness to be prepared may offer new opportunities for Environics also in cargo and cruise ship industry and civil defence. Passenger ships can be considered highly vulnerable and easily accessible targets for terrorist activity or collisions involving other vessels carrying hazardous substances. When evaluating the seriousness and consequences of such maritime incidents for human life, it is worth to notice that one passenger ship can have even 10 000 persons onboard. In these types of incidents also property and environment are simultaneously under threat.

Application Oriented Product Portfolio

Naval operating environment sets demands for high quality, durability, tolerance and reliability of the system components. Uncompromised CBRN detection performance and completion of the intended missions have been taken into account by Environics in both its own application-based product development and selection of complementing products. As a part of this approach, Environics has developed rugged, tested military grade device versions applying the core technologies – the Rugged ENVI BioScout for detection of potentially harmful bioaerosols, ChemProDM for chemical (CWAs/TICs) detection and the Rugged Master Module for data processing to be implemented for Naval CBRN Monitoring. The importance of collecting representative air samples to the chemical and biological detectors has been emphasized by designing dedicated air sampling systems for different installation needs. The dedicated system software, EnviScreen Operix, has undergone intense modernization to deliver several new features for improving user experience by system operators. This key component provides real- time situational awareness and sensor management, CBRN event and measurement database and system services. The optional software modules are available for expanding the capabilities to CBRN reporting and hazard area plotting, integration to 3rd party systems like Ship Control and Automation Systems or Battle Management Systems and creating realistic training exercises to improve and maintains operators´ skills and preparedness.

On top of the selected 3rd party solutions, Environics´ own product portfolio offers several complementing products to fixed installed CBRN monitoring systems: ChemPro100i Chemical Detectors with optional accessories of the CBRN kit, ENVI Assay System Gold rapid tests for provisional BWA identification and RanidPro200 backpacks and RanidPort portal solutions for radiation detection and identification. Maritime CBRN Monitoring relates also to other areas of applications provided by Environics. Tactical Area CBRN monitoring in the form of EnVision GOSSAMER can be adapted for temporary surveillance needs in the maritime context, e.g. in sea port facilities. Furthermore, the Border CBRN Monitoring Concept includes in-house solutions for screening of passengers, freight and trucks in sea ports.

Support for the Whole System Lifespan

EnviScreen CBRN monitoring systems are featured with low costs of ownership. Maintaining them operational requires timely technical support and comprehensive user, maintenance and tactical training available through the whole system life-cycle. To ensure uncompromised performance, Environics invests in the full life-cycle support and commits to adapting the CBRN monitoring systems to variable operating environments. Environics contributes to all parts of the customer journey, from the very first steps of identifying the needs to comprehensive support in design, deliveries and beyond.

Biography of the Writer

Mrs. Katja Kiukas, MSc, BBA, has gained over a decade`s application, business and technology- oriented expertise in the field of Bio Detection and CBRN Monitoring Systems for naval vessels, land vehicles, area monitoring and critical infrastructure protection. In Environics Oy, she takes currently responsibilities as a Product Manager for Bio Detection and CBRN Systems and an Application Manager for Building CBRN Monitoring.