US Navy sailor develops new sonar system

USS Fitzgerald’s Chief Sonar Technician (Surface) Benjamin Lebron has developed a new program that assists in locating and tracking submarines and improves his ship’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

The program, known as Single Leg Bearing Range (SLBR), is a passive target-motion analysis tactical decision aid which calculates the algorithms and formulas used in tracking submarines in seconds and can be used on any computer.

Benjamin Lebron said: “When dealing with SONAR, in addition to looking at all the acoustics, you also have to deal with all the bearing information. SLBR allows Sailors to input all the information and it draws out the lines of sound geometries and presents the information for you.”

“So instead of being 10 or 15 minutes behind the problem, the program can solve it seconds after you take the measurements.”

SLBR has resulted in Lebron being awarded Enlisted Innovator of the Year as part of the Secretary of the Navy’s initiative to recognize Department of the Navy (DON) individuals who made significant innovative achievements in calendar year 2015 in effort to help create a culture of innovation across the DON.

Fitzgerald began implementing SLBR ship-wide during its 2015 patrol cycle where it played an essential role in improving the ships anti-submarine warfare capabilities in several high profile exercises such as Talisman Sabre 15 and multiple routine patrols in the South China Sea.

Lt. Jg. Ridge Alkonis, Fitzgerald’s anti-submarine warfare officer, said: “SLBR takes SONAR out of the Stone Age and provides watch standers the ability to process data as fast as they can receive it. It has aided the Fitzgerald SONAR team in tracking several real world contacts at an unprecedented proficiency.”

Lebron developed SLBR over a two year period and said the catalyst for the idea was when the Pohang-class Republic of Korea Navy ship ROKS Cheonan (PCC 722) was sunk off the coast of the Yellow Sea killing 46 sailors in 2010.

Due to its ability to be operated on any computer, SLBRs’ ability to be modified and adapted as it continues to be tested by Sonar Technicians around the fleet has led to Lebron describing it as a continually evolving product that can quickly adapt to meet the needs of the fleet.