Each CBRN system’s specifications for naval vessels are unique. They may range from a one line requirement, to hundreds — or sometimes — even thousands of requirements.

This article is not meant to instruct experts, who make challenging work to specify different sub-systems for naval vessels. Instead, it opens the supplier’s perspective to this difficult topic, reflecting a purely personal view based on a 18 years long experience of reading and responding to hundreds of specifications. 

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Stakeholders & Naval CBRN Monitoring Systems

Naval vessels CBRN monitoring systems specifications are prepared by different stakeholders:

End User Request
  • The starting point for CBRN protection planning should always be the threat analysis. Although, however small the possibility of the threat of CBRN might be, it should always be considered in the risk evaluation. Depending on the purpose of the ship, the political situation in the area, the use profile of the vessel etc. the protection and detection capability needs to be designed accordingly. This is the phase where the end user defines the needs and wishes for the becoming system. During the preliminary planning, the user decides what are exactly the threats, which the system should be able to protect against.

  • At this point, it is beneficial, if end-user has an idea of the price level of different threat detection capabilities. As a rule-of-thumb, radiation detection has normally the lowest price tag per measurement point and biological detection the highest. Chemical detection is somewhere in between. Request For Information (RFI) is the best tool for end user to map out capabilities, technical solutions and price levels.  
Shipyard Specification
  • The shipyard’s work should adapt and complement the end-user requirements into a feasible technical specification. When the shipyard gets the requirements from the end-user, it implements them into the ship’s practical and technical planning. Sometimes the end-user requirements can be very detailed, but in many cases the requirements are quite “sketchy”, giving the ship builder freedom to define the system more independently.

  • An efficient way to get more detailed technical and financial information from the suppliers is to ask for budgetary proposals. 
Supplier recommendations
  • The CBRN system provider has the best knowledge of the detection technologies and their capabilities, including pros and cons. It is therefore beneficial to get suppliers involved into the process as early as possible, even before the tender phase. Discussion between the end user, the ship builder and the system provider, enables to design and provide the vessel optimized protection.  
Classification society recommendations & rules
  • In addition to the end-user, the ship builder and the supplier, the members of the IACS (International Association Classification Society) have defined their recommendations for an effective CBRN monitoring system for the ships. System set-up with the recommended configuration gives effective protection for the vessel and its crew against the Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological threats.  

In most cases, the actual system specification is actually formed step by step by all players above. End-users have their basic mandatory requirement, where they may adapt classification society’s guidance. Shipyards develop the requirements further, add technical details and prepare them into a format, which can be implemented in the actual vessel. The supplier’s role is fulfilling the needs and giving assistance, when needed. 

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Naval CBRN Monitoring System Specification Challenges

Irrelevant requirements
  • Making requirements for a naval vessel is a huge task and the content in such a ship is very versatile, therefore the variety of the requirements is extensive. Too often the basic requirements are copied for all of the devices and sub-systems, although not all are relevant to each equipment. Sometimes these irrelevant requirements cause challenges and extra work to the system suppliers, thus, causing extra costs for the buyer. More detailed and better targeted requirements enable suppliers to offer more suitable and cost-effective solutions.  
Over specification
  • Over specifying costs extra. Sometimes irrelevant requirements force the supplier to make modifications to COTS product, thus, increasing the costs. Especially, when the modified products needs to be test proven, the costs can be many times the price of the COTS product. In a worst case, modifications are not needed in any other project and extra cost have to be charged from the customer in that specific case. 
Extra work load
  • Special documentation and/or specific templates increase the workload for the supplier. This workload naturally will be indicated in the system price. Standard documentation is normally included into the system cost, but all extra work will be added. 

From the supplier’s perspective, the optimum specification would be written for just the CBRN system and preferably allowing the use of COTS products. At any phase of the specification preparations, it is always recommendable to contact different suppliers. They are certainly willing to assist by sharing the information and recommendations with the customers.  

At least Environics is always happy to help to make Naval CBRN Monitoring Systems appropriate and the best possible solution for the user’s needs.

Would you like to know more about our Naval & Maritime CBRN Monitoring Solution?

The views and opinions expressed in Bertin Environics Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Environics Oy. Any content provided by the authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, neither they serve as a scientific statement.


Arto Penttinen

CBRN Application Manager

I am Arto, a CBRN professional working in the field since 2003. In my early years in this business I have been in the Product Management field, but recently I have been mostly involved in CBRN Naval & Maritime System Project Management.

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4 Responses to “How to Make Specifications for a Naval CBRN Monitoring System”

  1. René Olivier

    Thanks a lot Arto, nice description of the sometimes conflicting requests, wishes and demands from the prospected buyers. Of course it is also important to avoid over specification in one field and e.g. neglecting the primary rules to optimise the detection application. Ship board detectors is one of the most unpredictable and harsh surroundings for detectors to be applied in. We discussed the use of test and evaluation for ship board detectors and the additional role of modelling.
    Furthermore I learned recently that there is a very well equipped test site for ships within Finland!
    At least handy to test the climatic conditions and ensure the position of the detectors is such that the detectors are able to work according to the expectation of Environics and its customers.

    • Arto Penttinen

      Dear Rene,

      Thank you for your comments. Of course suppliers try to meet the market requirements, but sometimes supplier’s and shipbuilder’s understanding do not exactly match. It is good to have organizations like TNO involved in this process as experts and operate as a bridge between different stakeholders.
      Our land is surrounded by ice quite a big part of the year. That’s probably the reason why Finland as been traditionally no 1 in building ice breakers. It is understandable that Finland has a good knowledge of designing and testing of devices to operate in freezing conditions in naval environment.


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