new sensor and software suite sponsored by the Office of Naval Research
(ONR) recently returned from West Africa after helping partner nations
track and identify target vessels of interest as part of an
international maritime security operation, officials announced July 10.
deployed the system, called “Rough Rhino,” aboard U.S. aircraft, ships
and partner nation ships operating in waters off the coast of Senegal
and Cape Verde. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen could access and control the
sensors both afloat and ashore, as well as share information in a
real-time common operating picture.
provides a comprehensive maritime domain awareness picture for dark,
gray and light targets—vessels that range from no electronic emissions
to those that cooperatively report their name and positions, said Dr.
Michael Pollock, ONR’s division director for electronics, sensors and
Rhino was responsible for finding targets during the most recent
two-week African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operation.
The primary missions are aimed at assisting and building the host
nation’s capability to interdict and counter narcotics, human
trafficking and illegal fishing.
any given day, the distributed intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (ISR) system tracked more than 600 targets, identified
vessels of interest and culminated in 24 boardings by Gambian,
Senegalese and U.S. maritime security teams. For future operations,
Gambia and Senegal will continue to work with African partner nations to
build and maintain maritime security and safety.
Rhino provided them one of the clearest maritime operational pictures
that they’ve ever seen,” said Pollock. “They could detect, locate,
quantify and confirm detailed activities of all vessels in their
respective countries’ exclusive economic zones.”
provided an opportunity to test the prototype Rough Rhino system in an
operationally and tactically relevant environment, allowing designers
and developers to see firsthand where the system needs improvement. The
system includes: radar, optics, electronic surveillance and integrated
software modified and developed by ONR contractors and the Naval
Research Laboratory. The system was installed on the Naval Research
Laboratory’s VXS-1 P-3, USS Simpson and Senegalese ships SNS Poponguine
and SNS Djiffere.
unique aspect to this project is how the research directly supports an
ongoing operation and how we can immediately ingest operator feedback”
said Pollock. He added that the software is constantly rewritten
annually from the ground up to keep up with changing technology, sensor
improvements, and fleet and operator needs.
date, the system has participated in five major operations, including
AMLEP 2011 and 2012. Participants particularly liked the system’s ease
of use, requiring little training, and clarity, as well as its
information storage and retrieval abilities, which can be used to
support after-action reviews and legal prosecutions.
is a joint mission conducted by the U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Naval
Forces Africa, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area and multiple West African
navies and coast guards. AMLEP is the operational portion of the Africa
Partnership Station (APS) initiative in which African navies employ
their professional skill, knowledge and experience to combat crime at
2007, the U.S. Navy has worked alongside African partner navies and
coast guards through a series of APS training events and regional
exercises to improve maritime safety and security. Additionally,
operations such as AMLEP provide participants with numerous
opportunities to operate together and develop productive relationships
through real-world situations.
Source: Office of Naval Research