Promoting underwater digital communication interoperability: The 2nd JANUS Interoperability Fest organized by CMRE

EarthzineUnderwater Communication

JANUS, the first underwater digital communications protocol, can make underwater devices interoperable and provide them with a common language to communicate and cooperate.

April 8, 2020

by Roberto Petroccia, Fausto Ferreira, Erin Yunes, Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation

Despite torrential downpours and severe winds, seven industry leaders from across Europe and the United States gathered at the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) in La Spezia, Italy for the second JANUS Interoperability Fest. This event was held from 14-19 November, 2019 and its main objective was to promote digital underwater communications interoperability. The Fest was sponsored by NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and supported by the Italian Navy Centro di Supporto e Sperimentazione Navale (CSSN). The participating companies included Applicon srl (ITA), Atlas Elektronik (DEU), EvoLogics GmbH (DEU), Popoto Modem (USA), Teledyne Marine (USA), Wärtsilä ELAC (DEU) and W-Sense (ITA).

JANUS - a common language

JANUS, developed by CMRE in collaboration with NATO Nations, is the first underwater digital communications protocol [1,2,3]. It was promulgated as a NATO standard in March 2017 and is freely available online [4]. To be able to communicate with each other, underwater assets need common standards.

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  • JANUS - a common language
  • Getting industry on board
  • JANUS fest
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"In our daily life, we are so used to being able to interconnect our phones or tablets and start exchanging data via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other standards that we do not even think about it," says CMRE Scientist Roberto Petroccia, chairman of the JANUS Fest, "Until JANUS, there wasn't anything even remotely similar for the underwater domain, enabling the interoperability between digital communication equipment from different manufacturers."

Adopted globally, JANUS can make military and civilian, NATO and non-NATO devices interoperable, providing them all with a common language with which to communicate and cooperate. Once equipped with a JANUS-capable device, multiple surface and underwater vehicles, as well as surface ships, could now start working together effectively. They could start cooperating for  better sampling  the ocean, or collecting data from  many sensors and oceanographic stations currently deployed at sea. Data from tsunami or hurricane warning systems could be delivered more quickly. Additionally, being able to talk to each other, all maritime devices could exchange data to avoid collisions among themselves, thus improving the safety of maritime operations and of fishermen and sailors. This is not limited to unmanned vehicles - also applies to manned systems such as submarines, where surfacing operations are always critical and the risk to impact with surface ships can be high. For submarine-related applications, the free and open nature of JANUS makes it ideal to be used in support of escape and rescue operations where interoperability and availability may literally be a matter of life and death [5].

Getting industry on board 

Top left: JANUS Fest area at CSSN-CMRE and deployed assets; Bottom Left: Tents installed to host participants; Top Right: Visualization of the spectrograms during the execution of the Fest; Bottom Right: Deployment at sea of equipment from the tents.

Fig. 1: Top left: JANUS Fest area at CSSN-CMRE and deployed assets; Bottom Left: Tents installed to host participants; Top Right: Visualization of the spectrograms during the execution of the Fest; Bottom Right: Deployment at sea of equipment from the tents.

To promote interoperability, industry needs to get on board and start providing JANUS-capable solutions. The Fest gave manufacturers the opportunity to work together to test interoperability of their technology via JANUS. Static and mobile devices were deployed to mimic real-life maritime scenarios and demonstrate this new capability. Figure 1 shows the overall setup of the JANUS Fest while Figure 2 displays an Autonomous Surface Vehicle used as a moving transmitter to explore real Doppler scenarios.

As Dr.-Ing. Florian Schulz, Head of Research and Algorithms at the ATLAS ELEKTRONIK Sonar Centre, states, “Since JANUS is a standard, we need to make sure it is interoperable between different Navies so that everyone can communicate across products and platforms.” Schulz adds that ATLAS is integrating JANUS into already existing submarine sonar systems with an additional software module. This technique allows submarines to exchange information with operators at the surface.

“The most interesting thing about this trial is that we are getting into real applications,” says Ken Scussel, Engineering Manager of Acoustic Communications at Teledyne Marine, Benthos, located in the United States. Scussel continues, “JANUS Fest is our opportunity to collaborate with other companies and make sure our technologies can all work together.”

Gianni Cario, Co-founder and CTO of the Italian company, AppliCon, has been implementing JANUS code into communications platforms for over five years. AppliCon focuses on the design and development of hardware and software for microprocessor-based embedded systems used in communication, networking, localization, navigation and monitoring. The company is in the process of developing a JANUS-capable surface vehicle. Cario states, “JANUS Fest is an important opportunity to match our results with other technologies.”


The CMRE Gulliver Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) during the JANUS Interoperability Fest.

Fig. 2: The CMRE Gulliver Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) during the JANUS Interoperability Fest.

Joining JANUS Fest was Popoto Modem from the United States. James DellaMorte, President of Popoto Modem, immediately saw the value in creating JANUS-compliant technology, “We thought it was a good thing to jump on to. If you look at what happened in air-based communication technology, everyone can use a cell phone and satellite. When we saw JANUS we thought eventually, everyone who works in the maritime industry will be involved in it and JANUS will grow.” By implementing the JANUS standard for undersea telecom, modems maximizes interoperability with the outside world.

Through JANUS Fest, the wide-ranging applications for the underwater communications standard across the maritime industry are examined. The Italian company W-Sense not only works with military bodies but also archeological explorations of the undersea environment. Fabrizio Gattuso, a representative from W-Sense, emphasizes that the ability to communicate across sectors is vital for the safety and security for everyone. “We provide networks for underwater communication for activities in oil and gas control, blue economy, and excavation of underwater heritage sites. We want to bring JANUS inside network solutions so we can use it as a point of first contact. The Fest allows us to test the products with other companies. It is very important for us to prove we have compatibility with other brands.”

The German company Wärtsilä ELAC Nautik GmbH released the UT 3000, the first system proven to offer analogue voice communication and digital data transmission in the underwater and maritime environment. The UT 3000 is installed in major sections of Naval submarines and surface ships worldwide. Michael Sieger states that “Wärtsilä ELAC is very interested in interoperable communications, and that “not only is JANUS important for communications, but customers are demanding it.”

EvoLogics, a German company that designs and manufactures wireless underwater communication was also part of the Fest. EvoLogics develops technology that enables intelligent cooperation between various vehicles and sensors. As EvoLogics software developer, Maksym Komar, adds, “We need equipment to be JANUS-compliant, it was good to bring everyone here to test the capability so we can understand each other”

In addition to the companies, observers from the US Navy attended the event. Dusan Radosevic and Pedro Forero from the Naval Information Warfare Centre, Pacific in San Diego, California, discuss the importance of JANUS to future operations. Forero says, “JANUS is very beneficial for future rescue efforts and Automatic Identification System (AIS) moving forward. If more nations actively pursue JANUS, it would be very useful for underwater interoperability amongst different groups.” The main role of the Naval observers was to talk to the developers and researchers to see how far JANUS capable technology has come. Radosevic adds, “JANUS is the first underwater communication standard that has been published openly. It gives us the opportunity to implement technology to communicate through the standard. This event encourages the industry to incorporate JANUS into applications instead of having to solve the same problems, over and over again.”

Deputy ship design manager, Kevin Hawk, of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Group of the US Navy, says JANUS is gaining traction in the underwater communications world and it is important for Navies to see how it works. Hawk adds, “We need the ability to communicate to our international allies, which is a technology that we have not had. In the event of a rescue, we may have to operate in the same area as an ally, so communication is very important for safety and efficiency.”

During the various days of the Fest, the level of cooperation among participants was excellent and data were successfully exchanged across the solutions deployed by the different manufactures, thus demonstrating the interoperability of these systems.

For more information about the participating companies, please visit:


[1] Potter, J., Alves, J., Green, D., Zappa, G., Nissen, I., and McCoy, K., "The JANUS underwater communications standard." In Proceedings of the 2nd Underwater Communications and Networking (UComms) Conference,” September 3-5, 2014, Sestri Levante, Italy, pp. 1-4.

[2] Alves, J., Furfaro, T., LePage, K., Munafò, A., Pelekanakis, K., Petroccia, R., and Zappa, G., "Moving JANUS forward: a look into the future of underwater communications interoperability". In Proceedings of MTS/IEEE OCEANS 2016, September 19–23 2016, Monterey, CA, USA.

[3] NATO, STANAG 4748 Ed. A ver. 1. Digital underwater signalling standard for network node discovery & interoperability. Last accessed: December 2019.

[4] JANUS wiki. Last accessed: December 2019.

[5] J. Alves et al., "A Paradigm Shift for Interoperable Submarine Rescue Operations: The Usage of JANUS During the Dynamic Monarch 2017 Exercise," In Proceedings of MTS/IEEE OCEANS 2018, Kobe, Japan, May 28-31 2018, pp. 1-7.