NATO’s underwater communication tool debuts at submarine rescue drill

Illustration. Photo: NATO

Taking part in the submarine escape and rescue exercise Dynamic Monarch for the first time, NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) supported the exercise using a new digital underwater acoustic communications capability providing more effective command and control to escape and rescue operations.

After 10 years of development by CMRE and partners, with support from the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), the first ever standard for digital underwater communications was established in March 2014.

It’s called Janus and is known in formal terms as STANAG4748. Adopted globally, Janus can make military and civilian, NATO and non-NATO devices interoperable, providing them all with a common language with which to communicate and arrange to cooperate.

The prospect of employing Janus for submarine rescue operations is very attractive. Currently, communications during rescue operations are performed solely with the analogue underwater telephones and the usage of the phonetic codes alpha to zulu.

This has the clear problem of needing an operator (that may be required for other equally critical tasks) to handle the communications on the submarine side.

Stress and language phonetic biases may also play a role in the success of the data exchange. By employing Janus for rescue communications, the operator requirement can be removed with automated systems transmitting critical data, and human factors may be removed altogether.

Such operator-dependent factors play an important role in the ability to properly decode analogue underwater telephone communications.

Throughout the exercise CMRE worked closely with Spanish Navy submarine ESPS Tramontana, the NATO Submarine Rescue System, ITS Anteo (Italian Navy) and TCG Inebolu and Alemdar (Turkish Navy).

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