Cole Attack Prompts Action In 1997, Harbor Offshore Incorporated, (HOI) was founded as a commercial diving company specializing in inspection, repair, removal and installation of marine structures, moorings, pipelines and cable systems. The attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 while it was docked in Yemen accelerated the U.S. Navy barrier program and prompted the Navy to aggressively provide additional protection to its ships and other assets. In 2002, HOI was awarded its first of many contracts by the Navy to provide a complete port security barrier (PSB) system for the Submarine Base in Bangor, Washington. This system is in excess of 11,000 feet. Since then, HOI has installed over 60 percent of the PSB systems used to protect U.S. Navy assets stationed at ports in the United States and throughout the world. In 2004, the company created Harbor Offshore Barriers Inc. (HOBI) to install maritime security barriers for the U.S. Navy. The company applied and was awarded an exclusive license for the unique barrier technology originally engineered by the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC) at Port Hueneme, California. Barriers Stop the Action, Preserves the Evidence HOBI produces two types of barrier systems referred to as Port Security Barrier (PSB) designed by NFESC and Fixed Security Barrier (FSB) designed by Harbor Offshore Inc. The systems range from maximum security (the PSB 5500 system) to high-level security (the PSB 1300) to mid-level security (PSB 600), with the PSB 5500 able to stop more than 9 million lbs. of force and the PSB 600 exceeding 1 million foot-pounds of energy. For example, a 4-ton boat traveling at 60 knots (69 miles per hour) will generate slightly over 1.2 million foot-pounds of energy. Much larger vessels going at a slower rate may generate the same amount of energy. The HOBI barrier systems are designed stop a wide variety of commercial and recreational vessels. From the surface, PSB systems looks much like a series of tennis nets sitting on cylindrical-shaped floats that fastened together to form a type of floating fence. “The concept is simple, however, the science is complex,” said Tom Pruitt, director of sales for HOBI. “The PSB flotation pontoons support a steel structure used for securing a vertical nylon or steel net. The net may be as high as nine feet above the surface of the water. The FSB system is comprised of a special purpose net that is secured to piling, platforms and/or a variety of marine structures. The FSB system can provide tremendous protection from the sea floor to any reasonable height above the surface deemed necessary by our client.” With both systems, when the nylon or steel nets encounter an impact, such as a speeding boat, it stretches to absorb the energy of the impact. The steel nets are further supported by additional elements in the technology called break rings that absorb the energy as well. All impacts into the nylon or steel nets are transmitted to an anchoring system that secures the entire structure to the ocean floor. “The design of the energy absorption elements and this technology reduces the loading to our anchoring system significantly. Safety factors of 2 times to 5 times their rated capacity are normal and required as part of the design process for marine components and structures. The nets are the first line of defense and do a tremendous job of absorbing the majority of the energy,” said Pruitt. “The primary purpose of the nets is to stop the boat,” said Pruitt. “Our barriers are a visual deterrent, they don’t hide potential intruders, and they are designed for all environments. The barriers are even practical for the potential wayward boater in that they keep recreational boaters away from protected assets without destroying the boat or inflicting serious injury to the occupants. In fact, one of the original design parameters by the Navy was to accommodate the public safety of the recreational maritime community by designing a system that will reduce the potential for loss of life in an impact.” CCAT Lends A Hand In the June of 2004, HOBI had been notified that the Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology (CCAT) was opening up a solicitation for proposals to consider funding opportunities and business services for small entrepreneurs and academic and government labs that specialize in military and security technologies. The Department of Defense (DoD)-supported CCAT program awards product development funding and business commercialization services to small entrepreneurs and university/government labs to help them achieve commercialization success. The non-profit CCAT program also awards business assistance such as mentoring, market studies and investor relations expertise to assist in getting these technologies into the hands of the U.S. military and first responders. The entire solicitation and award process takes approximately 90- 120 days from start to finish. In July of 2004, CCAT awarded HOBI a market study. The market study helps a company determine how to seek out new markets with potential clients and to improve existing marketing strategy. “The market research work that CCAT did confirm, almost to the letter, what I had discovered (in working with clients),” said Pruitt. “It affirmed that we were on the right path, talking to the right people, and going to the right places. It gave me a lot of confidence that I wasn’t just spinning my wheels.” It’s More than Ships… Although naval vessels are a primary threat target, many of security threats are not focused necessarily on ships in port. These include liquid natural gas facilities, bridges, water intakes for desalinization plants and naval facilities - all of which pose attractive targets for potential terrorists. “The risk of loss from a successful terrorist attack on a major natural liquid gas or oil producing platform or refinery is enormous in terms of its economic and political value,” said Pruitt. “We’re talking about numbers in the many billions of dollars and that risk is substantial in terms of both its possibility and its value.” While HOBI does a brisk business on U.S. shores, much of HOBI’s business of this nature is concentrated in the Middle East and in Europe. In addition to the U.S. Navy, other clients include the French defense contractor, DCN, who completed an installation in Brest, France around a nuclear submarine base in July, 2007.
For more information, contact: Suzanne Finch CCAT Program Phone: (619) 594-7221