Ultra Electronics 3eTi

Wireless Reach-Back Communications

May 22nd, 2018 / By

Maritime interdiction operations support

As part of the US Navy’s operations on international waters, Navy personnel are often called upon to conduct vessel boarding with search-and-seizure procedures directed at cargo or materials. The Navy required a way to maintain communications while boarding and descending into a vessel.

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An important component of protecting homeland security is inspecting foreign ships and cargo before they are permitted to enter US waters. Doing so had been a dangerous challenge in part because communications were lost to the host ship when inspection personnel came aboard. The vessels often were two to three nautical miles apart. Inspectors dispersed widely, seizing critical
samples such as fingerprints and suspect materials. These items were then taken back to the host ship to be processed, via satellite communications (SATCOM), through the law enforcement system. This process took hours, leaving inspection personnel at high risk aboard a potentially hostile vessel.

The Navy sought a wireless reach-back system (WRBS) that allowed boarding personnel to maintain contact during inspections.


3eTI developed 140 WRBS kits for field deployment. They provided for continuous communication between inspection personnel on site and their host ship. Not only did the WRBS met all DoD standards for security, which prevented eavesdroppers from intercepting the information, it sustained communications throughout the foreign vessel. The secure wireless-mesh network enabled voice, video and data to be sent to the host ship for real-time monitoring and to immediately alert inspectors to hazards.

3eTI’s secure solution for expanded maritime interception operation (EMIO) included the WiFiProtect Gateway on the Navy host vessel that provided a secure and wireless data link to a battery-powered IP router – the WiFiProtect PAC-Link – that the EMIO boarding party used during inspections to send data back to the Navy vessel.

WiFiProtect devices are highly credentialed, offering IEEE 802.11 standard compliance, Common Criteria EAL Level 4 certification, and FIPS validation. They also are NSA Suite B upgradable. As with all 3eTI products, WiFiProtect devices provide a range of security options to accommodate stringent information assurance (IA) requirements.