Nuclear detection research
An international team of researchers, special forces operators, first responders and scientists recently conducted a globe-spanning experiment designed to detect and destroy ship-borne nuclear threats.
NPS leads global team in nuclear detection research
SAN FRANCISCO – An international team of researchers, special forces operators, first responders and scientists led by Naval Postgraduate School Department of Information Sciences Associate Professor Alexander Bordetsky and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently conducted a globe-spanning experiment designed to detect and destroy ship-borne nuclear threats.
The experiment, dubbed MIO 2013, incorporated NPS’ Tactical Network Testbed (TNT) and Maritime Interdiction Operations groups with field experiments conducted by NPS’ Center for Network Innovation and Experimentation (CENETIX) and international partners from a diverse array of disciplines.
According to NPS Department of Operations Research Professor of Practice, and maritime security expert, retired Navy Capt. Jeff Kline, 90 percent of all goods transported to market travel by sea. That translates into thousands of cargo ships and millions of constantly moving containers. The containers and the ships that carry them are critical to global commerce, but they also pose a significant security risk.
“The volume of container traffic coming into the United States represents a potential vulnerability to our security systems,” said Kline. “The sensors and inspection techniques that our researchers are working on will enhance our ability to intercept containers with dangerous material.”
To mitigate the vulnerability posed by container traffic, Bordetsky and his associates have been quietly working to create a series of networked sensors in the U.S. and in allied countries abroad. When linked to a broader network, these sensors may offer the best hope of preventing a dirty bomb or other ship-borne nuclear device from ever reaching its intended victims.
“A central part of our TNT/MIO experiments has been the study of collaboration between boarding and detection officers and remote technical experts …. In MIO 2013, we explored the collaboration between European and U.S. experts during network-controlled check points, drive-by screenings and stand-off detection during high-speed pursuits,” said Bordetsky.
In order to make Bordetsky’s vision a reality, it was first necessary to develop a handful of new technologies and then force them to work together. And his vision paints quite a robust, secure picture.
Civilian and military Intelligence professionals collect human and signal intelligence from a variety of sensors and sources. Maritime officials, Navy and Coast Guard, from the both the U.S. and allied nations share information on suspect vessels. This information is relayed to experts wherever they are who analyze the threat and provide feedback which is shared with maritime officers who then board, identify and neutralize potential threats.
“The goal is to find the device in the fastest time possible and to establish a security perimeter,” said Bordetsky.