During natural or manmade disasters, the U.S. armed forces, with rapidly deployable sealift, airlift, logistics, and medical care capabilities, may be called to supplement lead agencies or organizations providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support.
The goal of DARPA’s Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program is to investigate and develop modular technologies and modular systems that leverage globally used International Organization for Standardization (ISO) shipping containers. The vision is to enable humanitarian assistance and disaster relief over broad coastal areas without dependence on local infrastructure, using unmodified commercial containerships, thus freeing military ships to carry out other military missions.
DARPA completed the first phase of the program, which developed four key modular systems, all of which are transportable using standard 20-foot or 40-foot commercial shipping containers.
The elements include:
- Core support modules—container-sized units that provide electrical power, berthing, water and other life-support requirements for an augmented crew aboard the container ship.
- Motion-stabilized cranes—modular on-board cranes to allow transfer of cargo containers at sea from the ship deck over the side and onto a sea-delivery vehicle.
- Sea-delivery vehicles—Captive Air Amphibious Transporters (CAAT) have air-filled pontoons on a tank tread-like design, enabling them to carry containers over water and directly onto shore. See video below.
- Parafoil unmanned air-delivery system—a low-cost, propeller-driven air vehicle that uses a parachute for lift and carries urgent supplies from the container ship to stricken areas on shore.
Due to cost constraints, an integrated demonstration of the complete TEMP system is not planned, but the core amphibious and air vehicle technologies are being considered for continued development to support a variety of military missions.