time: 2015-08-10 15:40

Sailors aboard the USS Independence successfully demonstrated a passive RFID system's utility during a test of a mine countermeasures mission package (MCM MP) container, conducted off the coast of Florida in early July. The demonstration is part of an RFID-based cargo-tracking solution developed by the Panama City Division (PCD) of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC). The solution is designed to eliminate the need to perform manual inventory checks on vessels like the Independence, which is a littoral combat ship (LCS), a small surface vessel intended for operations close to shore.

The RFID project, which uses ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags affixed to tools stored in metal cabinets within containers, showed the technology's ability to dramatically reduce the amount of time that sailors spend conducting parts and equipment inventory counts in support of ship replenishment. During the container testing, Sailors scanned and inventoried 1,300 pieces of equipment within only 21 minutes, during a rapid replenishment evolution between at-sea periods. Previously, according to the NSWC PCD, this task would have required three sailors 72 hours to accomplish. The project goes back as far as 2012 (see Naval Surface Warfare Center Demos RFID Tool-Tracking Solution for Combat Ships).

"RFID reduced the time the sailors are in the containers in the ship, and that's a goal—to reduce the warfighter's workload," said Bill Israelson, an NSWC PCD project engineer, in a prepared statement. "With the system's proven accuracy, we can quickly tell what needs to be resupplied so the ship can get what it needs and head back to sea."

The inventory occurred once the sailors returned to port from after conducting at-sea technical evaluations. Once in port, engineers from NSWC PCD, NSWC Port Hueneme Division and contractor support scanned parts and equipment inside the mission package, the NSWC PCD explained. They then forwarded that information to a computer to determine what needed replenishment.

The RFID project is nearing the final test and evaluation stage, which is necessary to validate the proof-of-concept. The RFID prototype was initially developed by the Office of Naval Research.

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