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Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS)

The SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) provides deep-water long-range detection capability. SOSUS enjoyed tremendous success during the Cold War tracking submarines by their faint acoustic signals. SOSUS consists of high-gain long fixed arrays in the deep ocean basins

BEAM accesses form beams from multiple hydrophone arrays trained on the seafloor to provide signal gain obtained through beam forming.

PHONE accesses individual hydrophones from arrays throughout the oceans provides omni-directional coverage.

With the advent of submarine warfare and it's impact on Allied forces and supply lines in WWII, the need for timely detection of undersea threats was made a high priority in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). As technology of the time progressed, it was recognized that shore-based monitoring stations were the answer to the problem since they could be made basically impervious to destruction, foul weather, and ambient self-generated noise. Since the early 1950s the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have been under the vigilence of SOSUS, with long acoustic sensors (hydrophones) installed across the ocean bottom at key locations. SOSUS has transitioned from single-beam paper displays to computer-based workstations for acoustic data analysis. By the end of FY 1998, the Shore Signal Information Processing Segment (SSIPS) and Surveillance Direction System (SDS) had been installed at all shore facilities, giving SOSUS a common equipment configuration and significantly reducing system infrastructure support costs.

With the development of quieter submarines and counter-tactics to evade SOSUS, newer technologies have been implemented over the years to "keep up with the threat". Faster processors, higher capacity storage devices, and "cleaner code" has enabled the advancement of the art of locating undersea threats. Currently, the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS) uses all of these advancements in the Fixed Surveillance System (FSS), Fixed Distributed System (FDS), and the Advanced Deployable System (ADS).

SOSUS Arrays are being placed in a standby status in which the data is available but not continuously monitored. In the event of a resurgence in the global submarine threat the worldwide network of fixed undersea surveillance systems such as the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) a critical asset. Since the end of the Cold War, Reservists have been increasing their role in this mission area. In a recent report, entitled The Future Naval Reserve: Roles & Missions, Size & Shape, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs stated that "expanding Reserve Component participation in this area would help protect the capital investment and maintain the infrastructure in peacetime for a potential resurgent undersea threat." This report also notes that, in the absence of a global threat, Reservists are helping to meet today's more limited surveillance needs while training for the future.

The deployment and maintenance of the undersea components of the IUSS shore systems is accomplished by technicians and engineers operating from IUSS Cable Support Ships.

Under operational command of the U.S. Navy's Commander Undersea Surveillance (CUS) IUSS shore systems are staffed and operated by uniformed U.S. Navy personnel. System life cycle and engineering support is provided by carreer civil servants (NISE East Code 341) and contractor personnel located at the IUSS Operations Support Center (IOSC).

With the end of the Cold War, SOSUS hydrophone arrays in both the Atlantic and Pacific face an uncertain future of shutdowns and closings. Consolidation of SOSUS by array retermination, remoting, or closure will be complete by FY97. Recent closures include Bermuda, Adak, and Keflavik. All other arrays will remain operational. SOSUS in the North Pacific is currently being analyzed for low-frequency vocalizations from marine mammals living in the open ocean.

On 26 April 1999 Lockheed Martin Corp., Manassas, Va., was awarded a $107,031,978 firm-fixed-price contract for Phase II of a deep water, undersea surveillance system. This system is a long life, passive acoustic surveillance system that can be configured for multiple mission applications. It has the capability to provide long-term barrier and field acoustic surveillance, long-range acoustic surveillance coverage of open ocean areas, and acoustic surveillance in areas with high ambient noise. This contract contains one option, which, if exercised, would bring the total cumulative value of this contract to $153,234,288. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by September 2005. This contract was competitively procured through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command electronic commerce web site and Commerce Business Daily with two offers solicited and two offers received. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N00039-99-C-2202).

Sources and Methods

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Tuesday, April 27, 1999 12:12:38 PM