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Underwater E-Mail for Submarines 129

/ writes "The Massachusetts-based company Benthos has developed a way for submarines to send e-mail underwater at distances of up to 3 miles (to a relay buouy) at 2,400 bps, using sound waves. Military and commercial applications abound."
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Underwater E-Mail for Submarines

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  • All these posts from people shows something about our collective mentality.

    Everyone seems to assume that the only use for 'submarines' are 'combat submarines'.

    Sheesh. Ever heard of .. uh.. research? You know? Science?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cant ipo in jail, no market for treason. Fraud is just normal operating procedure. Comes with a T1.
  • >[ping]...[ping]...[ping]
    > Seaman: Sir! Sonar detected!
    > Captain: Get a fix on it, mister!
    > Seaman:'s coming from!
    > Captain: Torpedo room! Lock onto ping source and fire at will!

    Hey, 10.*.*.* is friendly fire!

    (Of course, if you're broadcasing your presence at 10.*.*.* over the external network, that's different. In that case, you probably deserve to get blowed up real good!)

  • BAH! Get back to work, Eric!
  • I think they just use plain ol' radio silence to avoid detection.

    Er. If you're trying to find a submarine, you don't look for radio transmissions, you use your sonar and listen for it to make noise (or ping it). The article says the messages are sent using sound waves. The original poster was asking if this would give away the sub's position.

  • Mr. Shoeboy, please tell us that the link in your post is fake. I didn't think there was anything left that could disturb me. "Dolphin males have a prehensile penis. They can wrap it around objects, and carry them as such." Wow. That's way more impressive than picking up a pen with your toes.

  • They already have secure methods of communication to recieve orders from.

    Yeah, but they have to surface to do it.

  • Our tax dollars at work - creating a new kind of pollution. The air, earth, seas and even space were once thought to be saturated with human corruption, but creative minds have taken the inevitable step forward to add another dimension to the devastation.
  • I agree with the potential benefits for interpreting and understanding dolphin language. The problem is that if this becomes a "relied upon" technology like VLF antenna's that already exist or microwave transmitters we might soon see the underwater "flooded" with noise pollution. In China they are already coming to grips with this in that excess noise pollution has effectively "blinded" the Baji Dolphin that survives almost entirely by echolocation. Too quick of an embrace and we could end up messing with the Beluga Whales and literally "talking them to death." This isn't meant to be an anti-progress rant just a call for sane use. Porn is not more important than whales. The sailors can stick with magazines if they have to. Incidentally U.S. Submarine sailors already receive 30 words each month (at least) in e-mails from Home. As I understand it the sub surfaces and "downloads" burst traffic including personal messages relayed via the sub command centers. My guess is this is intended to be a support to the VLF emergency circuts that allow for underwater transmission in time of emergency. -------------------------------------------------- A toast to e-mail free whales exerywhere. -------------------------------------------------- PolarBearC
  • Check out, there's plently there that will disturb you.
    (former microserf)
  • As a submariner, I have a question. Is it a detectable signal? If so, then it does us, in the submarine force, no good. We STILL are the Silent Service. Oh, girls are still not allowed in submarines. The policy has not changed. Even the most vocal groups that want woman in the submarine force have stated that it would be a mistake to put them on the boats.
  • Hagbard Celine has had email (amongst many other things) on his sub for many years now. But then, he's always been far ahead of the rest of the world.
  • THE PENTAGON. (AP) A group of terrorist sea mammals claims to have possession of the authorization codes that grant access to the US Navy's nuclear arsenal.
    A spokesanimal, known only as 'fLiPpOR', claims that the group will obliterate human civilization as we know it unless all water-polluting industry is immediately halted.
    They also demand that all natures of fishing by humans cease immediately; and further that 12 tonnes of herring be dumped into the ocean off the coast of Spain.

    Problems first became apparent when the ship's monitors of the USS Portent nuclear-class submarine began to flash the message "wE bR0kE uR lAmE @$$ 'K0DEZ' - tHe d0lphInS 0wN j00!!!!#$$!!@@!" Department of Defense officials refused to comment on speculations that marginally intelligent marine animals were able to defeat their cryptography measures.

    "We are tired of being pushed aside as mere 'animals'" commented an unaffiliated dolphin on conditions of anonymity. "The frustration of being labelled a 'second-rate life form' gets to all of us, and someone finally snapped."
  • I expect that they'd use this when passing within three miles of a US (or friendly) military ship. The friendly ship could then do the equivalent of a mail call with even pausing

    I'd also expect lots of 'fake' mail calls to keep eavesdroppers from deducing actual locations. They should use a towed responder buoy, so that single source 'fake mail call' couldn't be distinguished from dual source (miles apart) 'real' mail calls.

    Then again, factoring in Doppler analysis, I bet this is just demonstrator technology, and won't be used for submarine e-mail at all. Spread spectrum sonic C3I (Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence) links could have other uses like control of remote units.

    Spread spectrum is definitely the way to go, if you want to hide even a short burst transmission. It should make it easier to bury your signals in the gurgle of the deep

  • You know, we aren't usually at war. I'm sure subs will take standard security procedures during combat periods. Also, the bouys might be cheap enough to saturate any area with.

    I think this sounds cool. Give the navy guys something to do while they're stuck down there.
  • They weren't trying to hack into it! They were just pinging it!

  • Maybe I've just been watching too many bad sub movies, but it seems that they're generally limited to the monochrome amber or green screens. I dunno... ASCII chicks just don't really do it for me...

    Observe, reason, and experiment.
  • The FCC was created because the airwaves *were* becoming a big ball o' static. There's nothing theoretical about it - read your history books.

    The FCC continues to exist because some politicians found it a convenient backdoor way to regulate content. The "ownership" issue is also coming up in defending the seizure of frequencies used for one purpose so they can be sold, SOLD, to another group for some quick bucks.

    These are fairly separate issues and it is possible for both sides to be correct.
  • without going into too much detail, ADCAP Mk 48s go a hell of a lot further than the kind of ranges this thing's supposed to work over.

    If you're sneakily "swimming" a torp out off-bearing to come at the target from different direction so he can't follow the line-of-bearing back to the initial firing point, *maybe* this thing is useful. I *think* they actually download that into the torp and send corrections over the wire if they need to -- any bubbleheads who are /.'s wanna comment? (Or I could ask on sci.military.naval.) For a "snap shot" where you're trying to get off a torp directly down the other guy's line of bearing, then get the hell outta Dodge, this thing would not be useful -- you'll have to trust the torp to home on the target and not get spoofed by countermeasures. But then, torps are pretty smart li'l fishes.

    I suspect that any kind of acoustic-communication guidance is a heckuva lot easier to jam than it is to make it work over any real-world type torpedo range.

  • Because the bandwidth for ELF is in seconds per character -- a relatively brief email could take half a day.


    RYAN : Captain, I'm telling you he wants to defect!

    MANCUSO Sonar, Conn - Jonesy, has he sent any emails in the last hour?

    JONES Conn, Sonar - getting a fix on them now captain...
    Aye captain, two to the Konavolov which seem to be taunts, one to his cousin in Chechnya, and there seems to be a stream of unidentified messages sent through a forged Hotmail address...

    MANCUSO My orders are specific Mr Ryan. Russian submarine spamming has been getting out of hand.
    Mr Thompson - flood tubes one and two and plot a solution.

  • Not to mention the ASW guys would love to find one of these gadgets -- with a range of three lousy miles, it's like a neon sign saying "SUBMARINES THIS WAY."

    Locate comm buoy, use as initial search datum. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    This has got to be the most ill-conceived idea since the Navy tried to train sea gulls to crap on enemy periscopes. (I bet you think I'm making that one up.)

  • You'll also have to find a way to stabilize the comm dish/feed horn so it's always pointed at the satellite, no matter what the wind and waves are doing. I'd like to know how you'd go about miniaturizing such a stabilization system -- I doubt the buoy could be smaller than, say, a large flower pot. Especially when it has to have some sort of flotation bladder.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:13PM (#1007479)
    As others have said - for military use, this is probably a Bad Idea.

    OTOH, given that present military communication tech for subs is much slower than 2400bps, it may have some value in the event that a sub commander deems it necessary to risk detection versus in order to have high-speed communications for a few hours. Although communication via this method is detectable, it's probably much less detectable than surfacing and using radio, for instance.

    Because the relay is in the form of a buoy, I envision an aircraft dropping a disposable relay buoy in the general vicinity of the sub (along with a bunch of decoys not in the general vicinity of the sub ;-) and the buoys self-destructing a few hours later after the message has been transmitted or received.

    The most likely applications, however, are likely to be civilian. There are plenty of underwater activities involving submersibles - both human-piloted and remotely-piloted - that could benefit from this. That the test was carried out on a military vessel is more of a "marketing" thing - if there are potential military applications, who better to have test it? The commercial application may be where the profits are made, but the military can serve a valuable role on the R&D side while the bugs get worked out.

  • forget about bringing a girl into the house, cause he *WILL* hear you... and be able to give a frequency count too

    I bet he'd also call out the Doppler and aspect changes. :o)

  • how many tons does 4-mile-long umbilical cable weigh anyway (one that is strong enough not to break under its own wieght)? Usually deploying a deep sea submersible requires heavy-duty cranes and handling equipment.
  • It's a dream come true for an enemy to have the locations of their adversaries assets at ALL times, in ALL places, not just while in their territory or while at war.
    This is one more way to compromise a force that depends on stealth for it's survival. The submarine force is a global force. Enemy territory doesn't mean very much to a blue water navy. Subs hunt each other all over the globe.
  • 1. Not all submarine vehicles are for military use
    • This means that they don't necessarily need to avoid detection... salvagers can now email to the surface. Imagine-- taking a photo of a wreck and sending it to the surface as you're doing the dive.
    • This means that they won't necessarily be manned by contact-starved sailors. Email can be for other uses besides "hi, mom!" and porn. ...and "hi, mom" and porn won't necessarily even be the first uses that come to mind.
    2. Even military submarines aren't always in combat situations
    • This means they don't always have to worry about avoiding detection.

    This might not have implications for Joe Schmoe, but there are a lot of commercial and research-related uses for this technology.
  • Comms Officer: Captain, enemy incoming transmission detected.

    Captain: Don't just sit there. Download it and decrypt it.

    Comms Officer: Already on it sir. Hmmm ... it appears that to be some kind of frequency-shifted, time-compressed code.

    Captain: What does it say?

    Comms Officer: LONELY BOTTLENOSE SEEKS MATE. Repeated over and over again sir.

    Captain: It's a code, I tell you. LONELY == damaged. BOTTLENOSE == warship. MATE == out of fuel. Give me the coordinates of the source and let's blast them out of the water!

    Comms Officer: Aye aye, captain!

  • heh... watch the Tuna Fish start flaming the Dolphins for kissing humanity's collective asses by doing backflips for entertainment just so they wouldn't get eaten. =)
  • Thanks for your reply -- I love it when I can ask questions like that and get an answer -- I guess that's the beauty of slashdot.
  • This is most obviously a way for Russian and Amercian subs to communicate. Think about it: Palm users can beam stuff back and forth via IR, students can cheat on exams with SMS messaging on their phones, ICQ users can message each other through the internet, now how about those lonely sea-faring people?

    But seriously, this could be cool. Maybe it will even lead to some breakthroughs with communicating with dolphins?! Or not. =)
  • Anyone see U571?
    "This is U571. Destroy me!"
  • by Nidhogg ( 161640 ) <> on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:18PM (#1007489) Journal
    1. While cruising at a depth of 400 feet, the USS Dolphin was able to send e-mails up to a distance of three miles to a relayer buoy, which transferred them to land

    The Dolphin (SS-555) is the Navy's non-combatant deisel-powered research submarine. That boat is older than most of us and security about it's position is not a major concern.

    Having served in the submarine Navy I seriously doubt this will be an option aboard the combatant vessels. Sub captains don't need any more excuses to have litters of kittens underway.

    But then again... even having served as long as I did... I was constantly surprised by the military's stupidity. :)

  • ...have the sub release a buoy that transmits an (encrypted) data payload when it hits the surface? Then, the sub can wander off and wait for an (encrypted) reply to be broadcast.

    Less risk of direct detection that way, aside from the noise of releasing the buoy (which would not be negligible, but still better than sitting there screaming at 2400 baud).
  • Current ELF systems do not use morse, and as a matter of fact, are not CW-based systems at all. They are low-speed data systems using something more like FSK than anything else. There is a lot of low-fer (as they are reffered to) activity down there (we are talking the 150kHz band here) that utilizes extremely slow-speed CW for experimental communications. A common example of LF data transmission is the "RF Controlled Atomic Clock" on your desk. It receives the LF data stream from WWVB (for us folks in the U.S.) and gathers the neccessary info to set your clock.

    And the noise issue is a rather large one, which LF transmission are particularly prone to, much like the audio band (20-20kHz), and from some of the same sources (lightning strikes, natural radio, etc).

    I think the biggest problem is with environmental and ecological concerns. As far as gee-whiz factors are concerned, it is kind of neat, but aside from that, the impact on species exposed to it is by far a more important issue than whether or not submariners should get thier e-mail. Submarines are one of those places where maybe people just shouldn't have net access... but then again, I feel that way about most politicians too. :)

  • As far as I know, the ELF transmitters to communicate with the USN submarine force are located at Laurentian Shield, WI; and Clam Lake, WI. I haven't heard anything about Gertrude, though. Is this system currently operational?
    -- []
    A site for everything Bluetooth. Coming soon.
  • Actually, it's already a problem: engine noise from tankers and other assorted large watercraft and all.

    It's kind of like the problem we have topside with light polution, although arguably light pollution is somewhat easier to deal with, since it's directional.
  • You know, I wondered about that too, as well as how useful this type of communication could be in wartime. Then, after reading some more comments, I had a different take.

    So they have to be within range of a buoy to send and receive. Tells me that they probably aren't going to be using this out on the open ocean. And another poster pointed out they already have their own ulra-low-freq communications system, why would they need to supplement this with a 2400 bps data comm?

    Lonely sailors. These poor guys are submerged for months with no contact with the outside world right? No letters from home, nothing. So maybe the use for this is to send and receive short messages from home. Perhaps once or twice during a deployment, the sub comes within the 4 miles or so of one of several 'e-mail buoys' and uploads/downloads email? Doesn't sound like much, but when you are locked in a can underwater for four months, getting a letter from home probably is a very big deal. Guy I worked for who was in the nuclear navy said the biggest danger they had on patrols was not from being in harms way, but from sailors going apeshit because of the psychological pressure.

    I don't know
  • The year is 2050. During the great Internet Reformation twenty-five years ago, all the spammers were herded up into a rocket and sent hurtling towards the sun. All, except for one...

    This man, driven insane by the lack of "$$$ QUICK" and "Free Porno" messages in his mailbox, hides in his only remaining refuge- under the sea. As Internet law has long held that people sending unsolicited e-mail shall be shot on sight, he concocts a devious way to return canned meat to the world.

    Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence have created incredibly intelligent computer systems - they very nearly approximate the mental capacity of small sea creatures. With this, and the fifty-year-old technology of submarine e-mail, he forges the dreaded SPAM FISH. *dun dun DUNNNN!!!*

    Using nanotechnology to automatically reproduce, these spam fish quickly reduce the Internet to its pre-2000 state - so much junk e-mail gets spread that there is roughly enough bandwidth remaining to match today's 56K modems. While the majority of end-users weep at the loss of their streaming video porn and free MP3s, the geeks of the turn of the century - now old, and considered useless by most of Silicon Valley, vaguely remember a post on Slashdot (back before Natalie Portman used the DMCA to shut it down).

    (hey, how about that? I incorporated AI, nanotech, Natalie Portman, and off-the-wall future predictions into one post, and even managed to stay vaguely on-topic!)

  • I don't know much about military submarines, but I have spent over 20 years working with, on, and in research submersibles. Maybe I can shed a little light on the subject of underwater email.

    For research purposes, there are lots of uses for tranfering data between a submerged sub and the surface. After all, one of the things research is involved in is collecting data. For some of the data, real time analysis is important.

    F'rinstance, the geodetic position of the sub is of interest to more than an enemy. If you are collecting information about a wellsite for an oil company, it would be nice to know that you are on their lease. Because GPS, Loran, or any other RF-based surface navigation signals don't travel underwater, the sub can't know its geodetic position without a little help from the surface. Sea-mail (a term I coined for underwater email) can provide that help.

    Another way that sea-mail can help is to reduce misunderstandings between the bottom and the surface. Voice communicatons underwater are so bad that 2400 BPS sounds good by comparison. If the folks in the sub encounter something that needs to be discussed with the surface, text on a screen is less prone to mistakes in interpretation than poor conversation. Especially when the topic of conversation is homophores or suckopods or other things that techs on the sub aren't familiar with.

    Finally, comm from a moving sub is a natural evolution from what underwater acoustic modems were developed for: getting data from the bottom to the surface without wires. If you want to know the temperature, visability, or whatever conditon on the bottom, you have to place a sensor there. To collect the data, either a wire or an acoustic link must connect the sensor with the surface. If you've ever strung a few miles of wire off a moving platform, you can see why folks are putting money into the alterative.

    Getting email to submerged subs is a good thing. I hope it continues to improve until it becomes as reliable as wired commo up here where the sun shines.
  • One of the navy's long time top-secret projects involved the use of ultralong sound waves to carry information to submarines. Undersea transmitters and receivers using the same frequencies as whales. The surprising thing: these low-frequency waves could travel for thousands of miles. Whales can, it seems, communicate with other whales on the opposite side of the globe.

    Presumably this update shortens the wavelength a little.

    Presumably, also, the deep sound of the ocean is now something like the SCKREEKEERKKKSXXEWES made by a modem, only slower.

    Pity the whales.

  • The sub probably must send data in all directions, but perhaps the bouys can send data to eachother with more direct sound waves?
  • The tech is aimed at the military, and the company claims that it doesn't give the sub's position away. I belive that an earlier press release ( makes this statement more clear by tacking on ..."without giving
    away its position by raising an antenna or surfacing", which is a different matter entirely. I'm highly dubious of this, but maybe we're guessing the wrong thing as to how this functions.

    Further, the range is only 3 miles. This really limits the military uses of it. OK, so you can have it bounce of buoys (and maybe seafloor retransmitters?) but still--that's a lot of infrastructure if we're spying on someone across the pacific.
  • ELF (Extremely low) radio waves are broadcast through bedrock to the subs, but they must surface to reply, and as someone stated elsewhere, they are only able to recieve characters per minute this way.
  • Mm. I should have responded more fully the first time. The reason the government regulates content is that the frequencies belong to the people. If the government sold you a license to broadcast at a particular frequency based on (say) first come first serve, and then you could use it any way you wanted, then you would own it- it would be your property, not the people's. Instead, the government makes you prove that you deserve to the one person who gets to broadcast at that range over everyone else who wants to, because you're becoming the custodian of a public resource. They (attempt to) make that decision based on how well you'll serve the public interest. That means saying, "If your content is not at such-and-such a level of public good, based on some method that we can measure, then you don't deserve to be the custodian of this slice of public property."

    You can argue that the particular regulations that the FCC makes are not the best regulations for forwarding the public good, but it seems to me clear that they have have the right to influence content.

    You'll notice that the laws governing print media are far less stringent than those on broadcast media. Newspapers and magazines can get away with way more than television stations can, simply because they don't use up any public resources.
  • I served as an ICBM launch officer. Did you notice the total lack of knowledge of secure long-distance text communications technologies by the person who started this thread? Don't you find it amusing that civilians seem to think military technology is the same it was before WWII? The only real use I can think of might be communication with a disabled sub by a rescue crew.
  • Can someone knowledgable tell me why they can't float a very small buey up to surface and do some sort of satellite uplink? or maybe link to some superstrong overhead plane or something? I can imagine that the time window would be short (if it's some plane going fast or something) but one could easily see fiber running from the sub to the buey and some small but powerful dish type thing broadcasting...

    there's gotta be some way-- the bueys would have little underwater noise, right? and no other bueys required... probably a bit expensive, but sounds cool to me.

  • What use does the average person have for sending email underwater?
  • I wonder how long before they get spammed at 2400 baud. The fun, the joy, the never ending spam.

  • PGP ain't gunna save your ass when that unseen enemy targets you based on your "re: me too" reply to the south park mailing list.

    Rule #1 of a submarine: Do NOT MAKE NOISE
    Rule #2 of a submarine: Do NOT MAKE NOISE

    Tyranny = Government choosing how much power to give the people.
  • And traceroute suddenly offers new military applications as well.
  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @11:57AM (#1007508) Homepage
    now our lonely sailors can get UUencoded porn spam from newsgroups, even four miles underwater!

    That should really help with their seamen problem?

  • eelMail, of course. My money's on 14th post.
  • Dry land is not a myth! I've seen it!!
  • I suppose that when I tell my g/f that my job is sending me away on a submarine mission for 6 months I'll have to supply her with an email now? Progress sucks sometimes.
  • There has long been the technology to communicate with underwater submarines. Don't you remember Project Seafarer, or Project Sanguine which weren't build and the smaller project that was? They probably used the technology Nikola Tesla was working on around the turn of the century to transmit power without wires.
  • How much longer until we can send the fighting boys adult entertainment while they are underwater?
  • Interesting, but I wonder will the crew be able to make use of this to keep in touch with their families or will it be restricted to "offical use" only. Might make long trips out in the deep blue a little easier on some. Malk-a-mite
  • I agree - I think that, if they must use this (i.e., get/send email while underwater) that they only do it when absolutely necessary - an event which I would find unlikely because heck, they've lived without it for this long!

    I just hope that we don't do something drastic and stress out (further, of course, knowing that our presence stresses them as it is) a few more innocent species of life (and yes, I realize that I probably sound cheesy, or like I'm preaching from my little soap box. oh well)

  • Yes, of course its easy just: 1. Open Screen door 2. Toss acoustic coupler out. 3. Close screen door 4. Download Porn!!!!!!!! Every sailor's dream.
  • Hey, this is wonderful. Not only are whales and dolphins harrassed endlessly by the sound of motors, now they can be tortured by the screeching of 2400 baud modems.
  • Its about time they wired the dolphins. Although, I think at 2400 baud we won't see a lot a media rich content being developed by them any time soon.
  • by aphrael ( 20058 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:00PM (#1007519) Homepage
    Wouldn't sending email from a submarine allow someone to detect its location? If the whole point is that the subs are supposed to be hidden ...

    (Actually, there must be a way to solve this --- as otherwise radio contact from the sub to a base would have the same problem. I'm not schooled in military technique, tho; anyone know what the solution is?)
  • This is all neat until green peace finds out about it and starts protesting because its disturbing the fish.

    of course the scary part will happen when the fish start replying. ;)

  • by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:19PM (#1007521)
    Quick! register, and
  • Couldn't this make it easier to approximate a submarine's location and course if an enemy is able to map the locations of each underwater modem station and then trace the route of out going email?
  • So what! These things have been around for years. I work for a submarine company and we have had acoustic modems for over 10 years. The company datasonics have marketed these for a long time. In fact that is what we use. Bethos just wanted to re-release this as a "new idea" because they bought Datasonics. Don't want to put the TCP/IP stack on top of the 2400 bps link. Usually do a custom telemetry using compression to get the most data throughput. We still get customers asking for streaming video over these things.
  • So whats next ? Noise polutions in the seas ?

    heh... I wonder whether the dolphin/whale listenners will change jobs and become hackers decoding enemy messages.

  • Seriously, this borders on silly. At the least it would be a Really Bad Idea...

    1) As many have stated before, the main rule on subs is Be Quiet. I would imagine it would be rather a sort of Bad Thing to be able to be found by 2400bps whine. :)

    1a) As of right now, needless to say, there is not a huge market in civilian oceangoing subs. :) The military already has its OWN system of getting in contact--namely, basically ELF pages sent at very slow rates (we're talking less than five words a minute--probably more like five CHARACTERS a minute--in Morse) telling them to come to periscope depth to pick up their messages. :)

    2) As many others have noted, this is probably not a Terribly Healthy Thing for other forms of life that depend on sound for echolocation and communication in deep-water environments, namely, cetaceans (whales and dolphins). As it is, scientists are concerned about the noise levels that ALREADY exist, to the point of diverting ships away from breeding areas of whales (momma whales aren't terribly crazy about the sounds of motors from cruise ships).

    3) Whales and dolphins aside, I'd imagine the humans at depth would be going minorly batty, and by voyage's end would be ready for the psychiatric ward of your local VA hospital :) There is a reason why most modem manufacturers disconnect the speaker after a successful connection--namely, modem sounds are damned annoying to most people. :)

    4) I don't want to THINK of all the natural sources of noise that'd cause literal "line noise" (earthquakes, ELF pages, other subs, boats, whales humping/telling the metal whale to shut up that infernal racket, etc.). :)

  • Currently, the only communications submarines send while underwater is the Gertude, a sonar phone of limited range and quality. Otherwise, subs must surface and use their radio.

    Crews of ballistic missile subs receive "family grams" periodically. They are electronic letters, submitted by their family to the Navy, compressed, and downloaded from satellites. Nearly all submarine communications are pre-recorded and compressed for short transmissions.

    The US does currently send information to underwater subs using extremely low frequencies (ELF). These are generated via massive cables buried somewhere in the midwest (Wisconsin, I think).

    An underwater datalink would, like the Gertrude, be of limited military use. A submarine's only asset is its stealth. While the data link may have an effective range of a few miles, a sub using it could be detected at a range over ten times that.

  • "...and the buoys self-destructing a few hours later after the message has been transmitted or received."

    ...if you choose to accept this e-mail, the spammer will disavow any knowledge of it.
    This buoy will self distruct in 5, 4, 3, 2, .......


  • I can imagine Steve Jobs demoing this technology under the name "SeaPort" at Sea World: While Shamu swims in the tank, he'll throw in a waterproofed iBook and use a "SeaPorted" keyboard, mouse to view web sites with it. Then he brings up a picture of sardines and then Shamu jumps out of the pool to give him a kiss.
  • We will now have a new TLD?

    To: Admiral@USS_Virginia.sub
    Subject: Fire Torpedo #1!
  • And here we are again with another round of confusion over bits, bytes, baud, b and B.

    The story itself says "bytes per second" while the slashdot header says "bps" and many posters say "baud". Since there is so little infomation in the yahoo story, it is very hard to tell who is confused, but obviously someone is wrong. Bits are not bytes and neither is a baud (although a baud _can_ be a bit/sec). Does anyone have anything closer to a primary source so we can sort this out?
  • Do not open ANY messages with ILOVEYOU in the title. I don't care if you ARE expecting it. Sincerely, The Cap'n "From now on you are to refer to me as Idiot, not You Captian!"

  • Why don't they just use the communications equipment they already have? This is dumb.
  • It is entirely possible that the objective of this research is not for use with submarines which may be involved in combat, but other vessels. For instance, wouldn't it be wonderful if the research submarine Alvin could carry a webcam down next time they visited an undersea vent? OK, at 2400 it's not going to update very often, but still...
  • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @02:05PM (#1007535)

    My dad's a retired chief who did his twenty in the sonar shack; all the way from GUPPY boats to 688s before he retired (ie. forget about bringing a girl into the house, cause he *WILL* hear you... and be able to give a frequency count too).

    Proposals like this thing, AND the acoustic email thing in the main topic would make him laugh his ass of... about two seconds before he reached out and twisted your head off for sugessting such a damn stupid idea.

    Simple fact is: sound BAD... quiet GOOD.

    These survallance ships would be sitting ducks just screaming to ivan : PLEASE KILL ME PLEASE KILL ME.

    Active sonar announces your position to a passive listener LONG BEFORE you get enough of a return to track your target. On subs, the ONLY time they're used is to perfect your solution right before you fire on your target... and usually it's not even necessary even then, passive sonar is so good it's SCARY.

    Ditto w/ skimmers. The only time skimmers use active sonar is when the whole world knows where you are already, such guarding a CVBG from subs. And even then, a CVBG can go silent and "dissappear" for a distrubingly long time.

    I dont think you need to worry about this thing bothering the whales.

  • The Gertrude is basically a sonar phone effective over short ranges (a couple miles, max). It can send voice or morse code and is used by a submerged submarine to communicate with other subs and surface ships.
  • Actually, they do get *some* communication. They're called "Family Grams". You get them like every 2 weeks, and they are limited to like 100 characters or something. No reply possible. It's not much, but it's nice to hear something like "Little Bobby made straight A's this week" or "Overdrawn again - sold your computer."
  • I thought there ultra low frequency radios worked even when submerged. Otherwise how could they communicate when submerged?
  • I spent four years as a sonar technician on the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688). If there was one thing any crewmember learned, it's that putting noise in the water is a bad bad thing. We went out of our way to ensure that our sub was as quiet as possible; doing our best to avoid being detected by anyone. This sonar e-mail system may be fine when counter-detection is not a concern, but far more bandwidth is available by transmitting e-mail (and any other messages) via a radio link, and far more security.
  • We can give this to enemy subs, and send them the "I love you virus". This will overload their hardware, and sink them on the spot
  • LOL! See you over the 4th!

  • I'd rather go with 20 miles of CAT5.

    Don't criticise someone who is attempting to use free software for not using enough free software.
  • else the whales are going to be sniffing the packets and they just might be more clever than we think.....
  • by TheShrike ( 123025 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:02PM (#1007546) Homepage
    Quoting from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society []:
    The impact of noise on cetaceans has been little studied. However, from the evidence that is available there are reasons to be concerned that their normal behaviour may be interrupted or otherwise adversely affected. They may also be displaced from areas that are of importance to them. Impacts may occur over tens and sometimes even hundreds of kilometres. The difficulty involved in detecting impacts does not mean that they are not occurring or that they are not of significance.

    Just something to think about.

  • Doesn't this sound like a fairly open security hole? I can see it now...

    " related news, a US Trident nuclear submarine was found to have been hacked and has been sending it's military GPS position to an IRC channel for the last 3 weeks. Sources close to the incedent have been thrown in the brigg, and the hacked Windows 2000 box was sent back to Microsoft (OS Division) with a Post-It note saying Please Fix. Linux zealots were heard laughing around the world."

    Or I guess maybe the better point to make is...

    "Oops - sorry Admiral. I'll have the lights back on in a minute! Running the web server process on the main computer was a good idea until its URL got posted to Slashdot... ;-)"

  • by haystor ( 102186 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:05PM (#1007554)
    The upside is that they can now have net access.
  • I think they just use plain ol' radio silence to avoid detection. Don't transmit while in enemy territory! Of course, when and if they do transmit, any other conventional military technique - frequency hopping, highly directional burst of radio waves using military grade encryption, and so on.
  • by YASD ( 199639 )

    I can see it now...

    Seaman: Sir! Sonar detected!
    Captain: Get a fix on it, mister!
    Seaman:'s coming from!
    Captain: Torpedo room! Lock onto ping source and fire at will!

  • That's interesting, though. Apparently, this is a method for turning sonar into computer-readable data, which is, as far as I know, the same way these marine mammals communicate.

    Two implications spring to mind: 1) Is there any chance of getting "dolphin interference" in the signal?; and 2) Could this make it easier to eventually decode these sonar signals, which some scientists think could be a highly developed lanaguage?

    Even if this turns out to be futile, this kind of technology could prove pretty useful for marine researchers - this way, you could go down in SCUBA gear with a waterproof laptop and still be able to get online.
  • "This is the first time that a submarine, operating at submerged depth and speed, has been able to communicate without giving away its position by raising an antenna or surfacing."

    Instead, the submarine gave away it's position by screaming a whole bunch of digital noise loud enough to make every sea mammal within 4 miles go deaf.

    yay for progress?
  • 2) Could this make it easier to eventually decode these sonar signals, which some scientists think could be a highly developed lanaguage?

    I can just see it now: the first translation of a dolphin message: "MAKE FISH FAST!!!! Hi, I'm Dolphin Delaney..."

  • Have you ever wondered why the Government thinks they own the airwaves? Why you need to have a license to broadcast radio and television signals? Think about it, WHO gave them the right to do this? What right does the Government have to just up and claim that the airwaves (which belong to EVERYBODY) are theirs and that they can control them and let whoever they want on there and not let on people who they
    don't like and who will broadcast the truth about the government.

    Are you trolling, or are you serious? The government regulates broadcasting because if they didn't, the airwaves would be a big ball o' static and no one could use them for anything, including transmitting the Truth about the Government. That's why the FCC exists. It was not a plot against the citizens by the Man; it was created as a necessary regulatory body.
  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:10PM (#1007581) Journal
    It sounds like a version of the Gertrude, a low powered sonar that is used as an underwater telephone at ranges less than 2 miles. That is way too much noise. Submarines do the best imitation of a hole in the ocean, anything that compromises this is very bad. Radio is encoded and translated to morse then recorded on a very high speed tape and transmitted at speed. All anyone hears is a chirp not much longer than a finger snap, and thats for 10 or so lines of text, a long message. Former MM2(SS) SSN 679
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @12:11PM (#1007584) Homepage
    I have two passions in life, dolphin molestation [] and slashdot. The problem is that when I'm scuba diving, I can't tell if slashdot has been updated. Just 5 minutes ago, I was wondering if there was some way to get new headlines emailed to me while I'm living out my flipper fantasies. All that karma has paid off!

    Science, is there anything it can't do?

    (former microserf)

System checkpoint complete.