The US Navy is using specially designed laser proximity measurement system developed by Laser Atlanta for maintaining a safe distance between ships during underway replenishment (UNREP).
During naval operations, mobile supply ships transport supplies and fuel to ships at sea. The transfer of goods and liquids requires that the ships sail along side each other and, in some circumstances, the conditions at sea demand careful navigation to avoid a collision.
The current UNREP navigation control is a time-tested, manual process that requires a line strung between the side-by-side vessels that mark inter-ship spacing. Unfortunately, the process taxes both captain and deck personnel.
To solve the problem, the US Navy pursued commercially available technology alternatives to provide positioning assistance while reducing the personnel involved in the operation.
To meet its needs, Laser Atlanta incorporated a billboard display into a proximity measurement system to continuously report the distance between ships to the captains and deck personnel of both ships.
The company also adapted the display to withstand the harsh environment of heavy sea spray and fog.