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Challenges of the Naval Electromagnetic

Environment for the EMC Engineer

Lt Cdr KR Raghu
Naval EMC Centre. Mumhai

Abstract - A Naval ship has a dense electromagnetic I. INTRODUCTION

environment onhoard due to the presence of myriad A naval ship operating at sea, immaterial of its role or
electrical, electronic and electromechanical systems
its mission, has to carry out certain minimum and
within a limited amount of space. These systems are
expected to perform to their design potential based on essential tasks to just be operating at sea. These include
which the ship’s roles and missions are decided. However, basic command and control, navigation,
mutual electromagnetic interference (EMI) between these communication, surveillance, machinery control, and
systems degrade equipment performance, sometimes to data distribution. Tasks specific to role and mission are
such an extent that one or more of these systems are in addition to these minimum operational functions.
rendered operationally unavailable. Such a reduction in Specific tasks include electronic warfare activities, mine
reliability and availability of mission-critical systems can sweeping operations, anti-air, anti surface-ship and anti-
prove detrimental to the success of a mission. Therefore, sub-surface surveillance and tracking, and any other
operational availability of the varied systems onboard at classified missions that may he assigned to the specific
optimum performance, will require containmentl control
of electromagnetic interference through achieving
electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) within and between
these systems. In order to accomplish these tasks, a naval ship
canies onboard a large array of highly sophisticated
The dense EM environment encountered by the electronic emitters and receivers, which use almost all
onboard systems is created, to a major extent, by these portions of the EM spectrum. This gives rise to a dense
systems themselves. The situation is compounded by the electromagnetic environment onhoard, particularly due
rapidly changing trends, wherein, emitter powers are to the presence of myriad equipment within a limited
increasing, while receivers are becoming more sensitive. amount of space. The dynamic nature of the naval EM
The cumulative frequency spectrum occupied by these environment coupled with the need for concurrent
systems range right from DC to 40 GHz. And all these
operation of these systems pose a formidable challenge
equipment are installed in close proximity to each other
because of the inevitable space constraints onhoard to the EMC engineer. The challenge stems from the
warships! performance expected from these systems and their
inevitable inability to meet these expectations,
Achievement of EMC is a practical requirement, and compromising the ship’s roles and missions. Such
has to he ensured through correct EMC engineering compromise arising out of degraded equipment
practices at all stages of a ship‘s design, production, performance due to mutual electromagnetic interference
installation and operation. This paper discusses the (EMI) between these systems is unacceptable.
challenges faced by an EMC engineer due to the Therefore, there is a need to manage the varied
peculiarities and daunting requirements imposed by the requirements of concurrent and optimal equipment
Naval EM environment. It also highlights the need for
effective implementation of the various EMC practices performance in the complex and dynamic EM
that are essential to ensurd enhance the operational environment through containment of mutual
availability of the electricall electronic systems onboard, electromagnetic interference.
in the EM environment in which they are made to
operate. It seeks to infer that reliable operational LI. COMPLEXITY OF NAVAL EM ENVIRONMENT
performance of equipment onhoard in consonance with The naval EM environment is harsh and unforgiving.
other co-located equipment is inevitably linked to their Many factors contribute to making it so, amongst which
mutual electromagnetic Compatibility, and achieving the the important ones requiring consideration in the
latter goes a long way in ensuring the former.
present context are space availability on ships, spectrum

Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003 41

coverage, technology, corrosive marine environment C. Advances in Technology
and indigenisation. Advances in technology have ensured receiver
systems of higher and higher sensitivities. At the same
A. Space Availabiliiy time, power output levels of transmitters have also
A typical naval frigate or a destroyer will be about increased manifold. Component vulnerability thresholds
120 to 160 metres long and about 15 to 20 metres broad. have reduced, and it does not take very high power
The middle one-third of the ship houses the super levels to cause their upset.
structure decks and all the emitter/ receiver antennas are
located in this portion of the ship (about 40 to 50 D. Unique Challenge
metres). On an average, about 40 odd assorted antennas The navy has a unique challenge among the military
can easily be spotted on a typical ship. services, because navy command and control centres are
afloat assets with no direct access to commercial or
military communications systems via landline.
Communication is possible at sea only through wireless
networks. A broad range of the spectrum may be

Middle one-third,used for all
required to support the functions of even a small
collection of these communication networks. Spectrum
management becomes more complex as the number of
onboard sensor antennas
systems using it increases.
Figure 1. Typical ship antenna loeation
B. Frequency Spectrum E. Physical Environment
The operational frequency spectrum covered by these The harsh physical environment in which the navy
antennas on the top-deck range from VLF (KHz) to has to operate compounds the matter further. Moisture
SHF (GHz), as shown in table-]. Majority of these and salt spray in the marine environment can make an
antennas feed systems that are invariably required to otherwise non-conducting and innocuous nylon rope
operate simultaneously, even in peace time operations. into a conducting structure, capable of causing current
Collocated antennas, even if operating at different flow through it, and even distort radiation pattems.
frequency bands, can result in interference, Corrosion induced non-linearities on the upper decks of '
desensitisation or burnout, due to the sheer power out the ship have been identified as the main cause for inter-
put from either antenna. It is difficult to achieve modulation interference (IMI) and broadband noise
sufficient isolation between so many antennas within (BBN) in receivers.
such severe space constraints, and due care has to be
exercised in locating them. F. Indigenisation
Indigenisation has brought multifarious requirements
TABLE I and responsibilities upon a workforce hitherto carrying
SPECTRUM COVERAGE OF SHIP SYSTEMS out minimal repair and replacement work. Imported
ships were readymade packages produced as per the
System I Frequency Range
production and installation doctrines prevalent and
CO""niCati0" I VLF, MF,HF, VHF, UHF
Direction Finding (DFI Systems I MF,HF.v/uHF time-tested in the countries from where these ships were

I Surveillance Radars
LBand (1 - 2 GHz)
S-Band (2 - 4 GHz)
C-Band (4- 8 GHz)
I imported. However reduced awareness, and to some
extent non-adherence to basic engineering practices in
indigenous ships have made the challenge much more
Navigational Radars X-Band (8 - IO GHz) complicated.
X-Band (8 - 12 GHz)
Target Tracking Radars
X-Band (8 - 12 GHz) MEASURES
Gun/ Missile Control Radars
Ku - Ka Bands (I2 -40 GHz)
ElecIzonic Suppart Measures ( E M ) 1' 500 MHa - 40 GHz
There are innumerable instances of EM1 causing
Electronic Counter Measures (ECM equipment performance degradation, system failures,
Above I GHz (typical)
or Jammer) System mission failures and outright disasters. The USS
Forrestal incident and sinking of HMS Sheffield are

42 Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003

prime examples. There have also been many instances
of EM1 in our own navy, although with much lesser
severity. These examples have amply demonstrated the
costs that are likely if sufficient attention is not paid to
the prevailing EM environment and its effects. The key
to deriving maximum ‘punch’ from the ship’s systems
therefore lies in management of the very environment,
which is affected and in turn affects the performance of
these systems. Managing this electromagnetic
environment involves achieving EMC in design and
opting for the most appropriate trade-offs for EMC in

Control of EM1 and achievement of electromagnetic

compatibility (EMC) amongst the co-existent
equipment is a practical requirement to be implemented
at all stages of design, production, installation and
utilisation. The most effective method by means of
which most of the known electromagnetic interference
situations can he prevented is by achieving
electromagnetic compatibility through design. A system
designed for electromagnetic compatibility will be more
amenable to integration into a dense equipment
environment. Similarly during ship design, attention
should be paid to the location of various equipment and
systems so that they do not cause impediment to each

Ship design is a trade-off between many

requirements, including structural strength, stability,
equipment fit, radar cross-section and EMC. Since
absolute EMC is impractical, the best under the
circumstance should be attempted and incorporated in
ship design. Top-deck antenna layout, arrangement of
equipment below decks cable routing and power supply
arrangements are important in this regard. During top-
deck design, ESM antenna should be placed at topmost
location to ensure range advantage. But this location
should not be in the beam of onhoard radars that might
cause interference or burnout of the ESM receiver front-
end electronics. Pulse radars can provide blanking Shipboard
signals to the ESM receiver, however, CW radars EMU EMC
cannot. Also, radar antenna location should consider
inter-radar interference, radiation pattern degradation, Induction I Refit
as well as blind sectors that may be caused due to their Surveys Special Surveys
location v i s - h i s other radar antennas and super
structure elements. Communication antennas, and HF
Pan-A Pan-B he-refit Post-refit
antennas in particular, need careful study before Survey Survey Surveys Surveys
finalising their location. Mathematical modelling, scale
model studies and computer modelling provide valuable

Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003 43

IV. FREQUENTLY OBSERVED DEFICIENCIES are susceptible to radiated emissions on the top-deck
and get induced with small currents, which are carried
During the course of the EMC surveys conducted so by these pipes or tubings to equipment below deck.
far certain common shortcomings have been observed Ladders, stanchions and other similar structures on top-
that have caused equipment performance degradation. deck form secondary or tertiary radiating antennas
However, after application of some simple EMC ‘fixes’, distorting the radiation pattem of the primary radiator.
the problems encountered were dramatically reduced, or Their joints with the bulkheads/ deck-heads when
altogether eliminated. Some of the most commonly corroded form non-linear junctions causing mixed
observed deficiencies are enumerated in the succeeding products of incident EM energy (‘rusty-bolt’ effects) to
paragraphs. be received by onboard sensors as inter-modulation
interference (MI). Similarly, RF arcing due to
A. Antenna Layout discontinuities to induced RF energy on top-deck
The inevitable requirement of having to locate a wide structures cause broadband noise. To prevent such
assortment of antennas, both in number and in size, instances, ladders and all other structures on the top-
within a limited amount of space onboard a ship is a deck including doors and hatches are bonded to the
daunting challenge for the EMC engineer and ship decks/ bulkheads using bond straps to ensure that they
designer. HF transmitter antennas, owing to co-location form a conductive continuum with the ship’s hull.
with receiver antennas, cause interference to HF/ V/
UHF receivers, resulting in desensitisation, harmonic Vertical metal
~ m c t u r ewith
interference, adjacent channel interference or broadband
noise. In-band radar antennas have also been observed
to be causing interference to each other. Common use of
easily available COTS (Commercial Off-The Shelf)
radars have compounded matters further. Sensitive Transmitter ______-------
ESM antennas, located at the top-most location to gain antenna-2
range advantage over distant radars, are vulnerable to
own-ship transmissions, as well as reflections from ship
Figure 3. IM products due to corraded non-linearilks on lopdeck
structures. Blanking from own-ship radar remedies the
problem to some extent, but with the accompanying
problem of reduced ESM ‘look time. C. RF Feeder Cables
RF feeder cables are routed through conduits since
B. Grounding and Bonding they carry high powers, and if not suitably conduited,
Grounding of equipment is required primarily from can cause induced currents in nearby cables due to
the point of view of personnel safety (to prevent cable-to-cable energy coupling. Provision of conduits.
electrical shock hazards) and the requirement to provide by itself does not assure immunity from energy
a reference for signals used to communicate between coupling to other sensitive cables. It is essential to
equipment. A proper ground system will ensure ensure that the conduit is electrically continuous
reduction of unwanted noise generated due to the effects through out its run with no breaks in it. It should also he
of common ground impedance. Bonding is the process properly grounded at both the ends. Excessive lengths
by which a low impedance path is established for the of RF feeder cables that are left loose on the decks can
flow of electric current between two or more lead to loop formations and loop-coupling effects,
conductors, and if properly done, is one of the best EM1 making stray currents to flow in the loops thus formed.
control techniques available, particularly to suppress It is therefore important to ensure that the RF feeder
top-deck generated EMI. cables are of the correct lengths and no unnecessary
extra lengths are available for formation of loops.
In many cases, waveguides, conduits, pipes, and other
such tubings on the top-decks, which penetrate the D. Cable-Shield Terminations
weather deck or bulkhead, are not grounded at the Most of the cables used in applications other than
points of penetration through deck-heads and power supply are normally shielded. These shields are
bulkheads. These structures if not grounded properly, of various types. Regardless of the type of shield, it has

44 Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003

to be properly and circumferentially terminated either and improved technologies, it will not be very difficult
into the connector which forms the end of the cable or to achieve realistic EMC goals onboard our ships.
to the deckheads or bulkheads where the cable Correct engineering practices to be adopted for the well
penetrates them. If such termination is not carried out, being of the ship and her equipment through out her
the very purpose of providing shields around these life-cycle, is a key to quality production and should he
cables will be defeated. That is, instead of warding-off augmented by timely infusion of ship production and
extemal emissions from affecting the core carrying the equipment installation standards. Improved
desired signal, an improperly terminated shield will technologies include adoption of existing as well as new
itself act as an antenna, re-radiating received energy. technologies to prevent EM1 to the extent feasible. A
few such improvements for shipboard applications
E. Cat- 'A' Compartments which can contribute to better EMC hygiene onboard
Compartments that house communication equipment, ships are considered in the succeeding paragraphs.
radar and Electronic Support Measures (ESM)
equipment are classified category 'A' compartments. A. Antennas
The primary,attribute of such a compartment is that it A major trend that may be observed world wide is to
will be shielded from all external sources of emissions, keep the top-decks of ships 'clean' with minimum
as also against emission-leakage from within. Such a number of antennas, notwithstanding the increase in
compartment will therefore have limited perforation on number of radar and communication systems onboard.
its deckheads and bulkheads: These perforations, if Short active antennas for HF communication
unavoidable, are provided with adequate shielding. (transmission and reception) would reduce the number
Cables that are not used by equipment within are not and size of HF antennas onboard ships, as well as
routed within the compartment and those that are reduce mutual EMI. Such antennas are already in use in
required have external shields as well as requisite band- many navies. Similarly, sharing apertures for multiple
filters at the points of their penetration into the functions, like radar and communication will reduce the
compartment. The door of such a compartment, being number of antenna apertures. These apertures may he
an opening in the bulkhead, will therefore he an entity, integrated with Frequency Selective Surfaces (FSS),
which can compromise shielding integrity. This is which act as an electronic curtain that block frequencies
overcome by one of several techniques available for outside the frequency band of the aperture, reducing
effective RF screening. The most common method is to vulnerability to out-of-band EM1 [I]. Plasma antennas
provide all-round metallic contact between the door and offer a new antenna paradigm for communication and
its frame using beryllium-copper strips, such that when may be considered for future ships. Such an antenna
the door is shut, it makes complete and firm contact employs ionised gas enclosed in a tube as the
with corresponding strips provided on the doorframe, conducting element, where the gas is ionised (to plasma
making the entire compartment a conductive enclosure state) only when RF signals are required to be
and therefore a shielded one. However, in some ships transmitted or received [2]. When the gas is not ionised,
surveyed, undulations and deformations on the metallic the antenna element ceases to exist, making it ideal for
strips provided on the doors and their frames have made collocation with other antennas. Use of multi-use
it impossible to have proper metal-to-metal contact. antennas is another option wherein the function of many
This is further compounded by layers of paint applied antennas may be substituted by a single antenna. These
on top of these metallic strips rendering them totally antennas are accompanied by their own complexities,
ineffective. Cat 'A' compartments that house sensitive but their effectiveness in terms of EM compatibility
receiver equipment are subjected to even more stringent outweighs these other considerations.
EM1 control regimes such as non-use of fluorescent
lamps that have wide band noise emission. B. Non-metallic stanchions, structures
Non-metallic stanchions for guard rails, non-metal
V. RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS halyards, and use of similar nonmetallic structures on
top deck can reduce hull generated EM1 to a
Complete electromagnetic compatibility may be an considerable extent due to their ' non-conducting
electro-utopian dream, which we can only strive to characteristics. While their effect on radiation pattem is
achieve. However, with correct engineering practices similar to metal structures, they do help in radar cross-

Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003 45

section reduction of the ship. These should therefore be systems, and how their functioning is threatened by the
considered as preferred options for future ships. environment in which they are required to operate. In
order to meet the challenges posed by the complexity of
C. Multi-sensor Data Fusion the naval EM environment, the EMC engineer has to be
Multi sensor data fusion is the process of combining equipped to deal with not only EM integrity problems,
diverse data from multiple sensors in such a way that but also co-ordinate with other engineers and agencies
the result provides more information than the sum of the responsible for ship design, structural engineering,
individual sensors. By handling a variety of inputs, a equipment selection, ship production and finally ship
system employing data fusion becomes less vulnerable maintenance and operation.
to EM1 on one part of the overall system, since failure
to receive some data would not have a significant ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
debilitating impact on the system as a whole. In other
words, data fusion from multiple sensors makes it easier The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable
to absorb fair accompli EM1 situations without loss of suggestions and encouragement provided by
overall information [3]. Commodore Rahul K Shrawat, Director, and
Commander BD Pandey, Deputy Director, Naval EMC
VI. CONCLUSIONS Centre, Mumbai, during preparation of this paper.

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46 Proceedings of INCEMIC - 2003