Barrier offers protection against maritime attacks

Published 27 September 2007

California company develops sturdy protective barrier to protect navy ships and critical infrastructure assets such as liquid natural gas facilities, bridges, water intakes for desalinization plants, and more

Remember the Cole. Harbor Offshore Incorporated (HOI) was founded in 1997 as as a commercial diving company, but the the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000 added a new emphasis to its operations. The attack prompted the U.S. Navy to look for protective barriers to provide additional protection to its ships, and in 2002 it awarded HOI its first contract to provide a port security barrier (PSB) system for the submarine base in Bangor, Washington. This system is more than 11,000 feet long. This was but the first contract, and since then HOI has installed more than 60 percent of the PSB systems used by the U.S. Navy.

In 2004 the company created Harbor Offshore Barriers (HOBI) to install maritime security barriers for the Navy, and was awarded an exclusive license for a barrier technology engineered by the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NFESC) at Port Hueneme, California.

Currently HOBI offers two types of barrier systems — Port Security Barrier (PSB) designed by NFESC and Fixed Security Barrier (FSB) designed by Harbor Offshore. The energy absorption of the PSB 5500 is more than five million foot-pounds, and the energy absorption of the the PSB 600 exceeds two million foot-pounds of energy. Note that a four-ton boat traveling at 60 knots (69 miles per hour) generates slightly more than 1.2 million foot-pounds of energy. Much larger vessels going at a slower rate may generate the same amount of energy.

In June 2004 HOBI learned of funding available from the San Diego-based Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology (CCAT) for small entrepreneurs and academic and government labs which specialize in military and security technologies. As readers of this newsletter would konow, the Department of Defense (DoD)-supported nonprofit CCAT also provides business assistance such as mentoring, market studies, and investor relations expertise to help get these technologies into the hands of the U.S. military and first responders. ish.

In July of 2004 CCAT awarded HOBI a market study. “The market research work that CCAT did confirm, almost to the letter, what I had discovered (in working with clients),” said Tom Pruitt, director of sales for HOBI. “It affirmed that we were on the right path, talking to the right people, and going to the right places. It gave me a lot of confidence that I wasn’t just spinning my wheels.” Pruitt, the marketing director, would know that HOBI’s technology has applications beyind protecting naval vessels. Other applications inculde protecting liquid natural gas facilities, bridges, water intakes for desalinization plants, and naval facilities, all of which are attractive targets for terrorists. “The risk of loss from a successful terrorist attack on a major natural liquid gas or oil producing platform or refinery is enormous in terms of its economic and political value,” said Pruitt. “We’re talking about numbers in the many billions of dollars and that risk is substantial in terms of both its possibility and its value.”

HOBI enjoys good relations with the U.S. Navy, but it has contracts with clients in the Middle East and in Europe. One of them is the French defense contractor, DCN, which installed installation the barrier around a nuclear submarine base in Brest in July 2007.

-for more information contact Suzanne Finch at CCAT