The Navy’s TB-16 array consists of an acoustic detector array that is towed by a cable that serves a direct towing function and also contains sensor communication lines. Strength members are employed within the cable to carry tension loads. High performance polymeric fiber reinforcement is used for the Light Weight Tow Cable (LWTC) that has significant advantages over the alternative heavy weight steel cable. The LWTC enhances capabilities in shallow towing and long scope lengths for ideal performance in littoral waters.
While the LWTC provides these advantages, it suffers from significant durability issues. The LWTC performs well in tension but compression loads encountered during deployment and recovery can cause buckling and damage to the sensitive data transmission lines.
TRI Austin is teaming with a cable manufacturer that currently produces tow cables for the U.S. Navy to develop and demonstrate new designs for the LWTC that will increase axial compression resistance. An ancillary benefit of the approach is that it will provide a means to also improve the puncture and tear resistance of the cable jacket.