What The Heck Is TMA?

Sonar and Target Motion Analysis Fundamentals is a course being offered by ATI starting on October 19.  Typically, the purpose of this blog is to share the real-world relevance of the material being taught in the class, and typically, there is a lot of real-world relevance to talk about.  Unfortunately, in this case, there is […]

Sonar and Target Motion Analysis Fundamentals is a course being offered by ATI starting on October 19. 

Typically, the purpose of this blog is to share the real-world relevance of the material being taught in the class, and typically, there is a lot of real-world relevance to talk about.  Unfortunately, in this case, there is not much real-world relevance to discuss. 

So, if you are a submarine sonarman, or if you are an engineer developing tools for use by submarine sonarmen, then this is the course for you!  You surely already understand the meaning and importance of Target Motion Analysis, and this class will offer insights that you may not have been exposed to in your Navy or workplace training.

For the rest of the world, since I can’t offer any real-world relevance, I will at least explain what Target Motion Analysis is, and why it is so critical to sonarmen.

Surface Ships use Radar in much the same way that Submarines use Sonar.  One major difference between Surface Ships and Submarines is that stealth is critical to the submarine, and less important to the surface ship.  So, submarines typically do not want to emit any energy from their ship, as that would be detectable by the adversary.  As a result, while Surface Ship Radar actively emits energy, submarine sonar does not.  Submarine Sonars act passively; it only listens to naturally occurring noise, it does not transmit any energy.

When a Surface Ship Radar emits a pulse and listens for a return, the radarman is able to pinpoint the precise location of the contact.  Over time, he can examine the track of his contact, and use this information for tactical purposes.  The process is fairly simple compared to what happens on a submarine.

When a submarine sonarman hears a contact using his passive sonar, he knows nothing more than the direction it is coming from.  Over time, he can develop a time history of the direction to the contact, but that is not the same as a Target Track.  The time history of target direction is of little use for tactical planners; they need to know the track of the contact, which includes the contacts range and direction of travel.  In order to convert the time history of target direction into a usable contact track, the sonarman, or the sonarman’s computer programs, must execute “Target Motion Analysis”.

If you find this explanation interesting, or if it sounds like something that you may be able to apply to your work, please consider joining us for this class.  You can learn more about the class, and register for it here.

A complete listing of our upcoming classes can be found here.

Lastly, a complete listing of all of the courses that ATI can offer upon request can be found here.

Submarine Movie Chat

Although I work for Applied Technology Institute now, I spent 40 years working in a career that had me riding nuclear submarines frequently, often for weeks at a time, doing tests and working closely with sailors in the US Navy.  Suffice it to say, I know a little about Submarines and Submariners.  Admittedly, I do […]

Although I work for Applied Technology Institute now, I spent 40 years working in a career that had me riding nuclear submarines frequently, often for weeks at a time, doing tests and working closely with sailors in the US Navy.  Suffice it to say, I know a little about Submarines and Submariners.  Admittedly, I do not know one one-hundredth of what is known by our many brave Submarine Sailors, past and present, but I but probably know more than most civilians.

So, what is the most realistic, and best Submarine movie ever made?  I am asked this question often, and although I have a quick and definitive response whenever I am asked this question, I decided to do a little research before writing this blog post.  I will reveal my top choice and my bottom choice, later.

When I googled the topic, I had hundreds of hits, so I decided I needed a systematic way to choose which sites I would visit.  I picked three sites.  First, I choose the Number 1 google hit, as google would want me to do.  Second, I chose the US Naval Institute, as I belong to this fine organization, and I trust what they say.  Lastly, I chose IMDB, the greatest movie site on the internet, which everyone should check out if they don’t already know about it. 

Here is what I found.

The two movies that appear on most top ten lists are Das Boat and Hunt for Red October.  These movies are not always Number one and two, but they are almost always on the list.

Many of the movies of the movies on top ten lists are foreign films.  Many are also older films from the WW2 era starring famous actors who are no longer with us.  There are many films in this category ( foreign and older ) which I have never seen before. In fact, based on the recommendation by a Navy Captain on the USNI site, before writing this blog, I decided to watch the 2019 UK-French film called “The Wolf’s Call”; more on that to follow. 

 Most of the movies on these lists make sense.  Even if I have never seen the movie before, the title and the picture on the box look like they would be submarine movie.  The one notable exception was a top- choice chosen by an officer in the US Navy on the US Naval Institute Site.  He chose “Office Space” as his top choice.  He justified his choice by saying “TPS reports, multiple bosses, a defective printer, coming in on Saturday, the oversight team of The Bobs that are There to Help, and the engineers are not allowed to talk to the normal people.”    A rather bizarre choice, but humorous and understandable to anyone who has served on a sub.

Some of the movies that people put on their top pick list were terrible movies.  My bottom choice actually appears on some of the lists.

So, after reviewing these sites, and after watching a new movie which piqued my interest, I will reveal my top choice and my bottom choice.  Top choice was, and remains, Das Boat.  (Honorable Mention goes to Hunt for Red October.)  Bottom Choice was, and remains, Crimson Tide.  My latest movie, The Wolf’s Call, did not impress me, in fact, it would be fairly low on my list.  I look forward to watching a few more of the submarine movies that I have not seen.  Who knows, I may find one that beats Das Boat.  Please feel free to leave recommendations in the comments section.

From IMDB, the tag line for 1981 film Das Boat is “The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-Boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror.”  I have seen this film many times, and I still enjoy watching it each time I see it.  This film is ranked as IMDBs second best Submarine Movie, and as IMDB’s 77th best overall movie.

 ATI has a submarine related course coming up in late September called SONAR Signal Processing.  You can learn more about this course, and register, here.

Another fun course offered by ATI is Submarines and Submariners.  Although this course is not being offered in the near future, you can read about it here.  If this course interests you, and you would like us to run it, or bring it your location for your staff, please let us know, and we can work with you.

Lastly, as always, a full listing of ATI’s courses can be found here.