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US ONR develops new barrier technology to protect ships in harbour

The US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Halo Maritime Defense Systems have jointly developed a new maritime security barrier to protect warships in harbour.

The new Halo Barrier system, which could provide a quantum leap in existing sea-port protection, provides protection to ships against speeding attack vessels in port and requires less manpower and lower maintenance.

ONR deputy director of research Craig Hughes said the new technology is a combination of great ideas, emergent technology and meets a critical need for ONR.

"This project represents a leap ahead in applied technology to create an advanced capability that addresses a critical fleet need to balance security and cost," Hughes said.

The Halo barrier has undergone a series of crash-tests using a full-size speedboat and validated its increased protection capability by stopping the high-speed speedboat almost instantly.

Commander, Naval Installations Command (CNIC) programme lead, Hal Oakley, said: "Plain and simple: we need new port security barriers to better protect our sailors, marines, ships and other assets."

The Halo Barriers can be operated by only one or two people, while the existing systems require large teams, long hours and armed protection to open and close barriers for vessels.

"The cost of maintenance and manpower required to operate the current port security barriers, just in opening and closing the barriers alone, is astronomical," Oakley said.

The new system is scheduled to undergo more tests in March-April, aimed to bring the barriers into acquisition in fiscal year 2015.

The ONR and CNIC team is also supported by Aberdeen Proving Ground and the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.