Honors Gallery

Combat Diver Navigation Module

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2018

Award Type: National

Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) - Panama City Division

Military combat divers conduct underwater missions in hazardous conditions. Critical to mission success is accurate underwater navigation and staying within oxygen rebreather depth limits to prevent oxygen toxicity. Traditional compasses and depth gauges can be virtually useless in this zero-visibility environment, even with auxiliary illumination.

The Smart Ship Systems Design (S3D) technical development team from Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWCPCD) understood all too well how underwater missions were seriously hampered by poor visibility conditions. This was their area of specialization. Each team member brought their unique experience, expertise, creativity, and innovation to address the challenge—to develop a small, low-cost, low-power enhanced navigation capability for the dangerous underwater combat navigation mission that would operate in zero visibility, yet enable the diver to remain clandestine and not degrade his night vision for follow-on land operations.

The Combat Diver Navigation Module (CDNM) technology, invented by NSWCPCD and transferred for manufacture via a Patent License Agreement to James Fisher Divex Global, has changed all that. The CDNM provides a clear visual display of a combat diver’s compass heading, depth, and time, even in zero visibility conditions. The tiny micro display, unique custom optical system, and electronics are integrated into a module that mounts to the side of a low-volume dive mask. The small lithium battery provides 20+ hours of operation.

The diver can flip the display up and down, turn the system on and off, adjust the display brightness level, and use the special NAVLOK software feature.

When the NAVLOK button is pressed, the selected compass heading is boxed and navigation alignment icons appear to assist the diver with maintaining an accurate navigation course. The screen displays compass heading, diver depth (in either feet or meters), and time in minutes and seconds using low-light red characters to reduce light signature and preserve divers’ night vision. There is also a remaining battery life icon.

Although the long-term revenue outcome is yet to be discovered, the immediate result is that James Fisher Divex Global will be manufacturing a production version of the CDNM for sale to, and use by, joint service military, allies, first responders, public safety, and potentially private-sector civilian entities. The estimated initial quantity for the United States and United Kingdom alone is nearly 3,000 units.

This technology transfer achieves the “grand slam” of T2:  Navy-developed technology is embedded in a new product that has both military and non-military applications. Thanks to the innovative thinking and perseverance of the technical development team at NSWCPCD, the Combat Diver’s Navigation Module will provide military divers conducting dangerous underwater navigation missions significantly increased accuracy, safety, and situational awareness.

Contact: Dennis Gallagher, (850) 235-5417, [email protected]