Demonstration of AUV-Based Acoustic Look-Down and Side-Look Sonars for Underwater UXO Detection and Classification

ESTCP 2021 Project of the Year Award for Munitions Response

Many active and former military installations have ordnance ranges and training areas with adjacent waters in which unexploded ordnance (UXO) now exist due to wartime activities, dumping, and accidents. Researchers have exploited low frequency sonars that experience lower absorption in the sediment and can detect buried objects.

MR ESTCP POY 2021

Skyfish AUV Sonar. Retractable sensor wings and spectrally/spatially uniform source constructed and tested near Boston Harbor.

The 2021 ESTCP Project of the Year for Munitions Response was headed by Dr. Joseph Bucaro and Dr. Brian Houston from the Naval Research Laboratory and their team. The project team’s first goal was to demonstrate the ability of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)-based sonars to detect and classify proud and buried UXO in a shallow water area. The second goal was to assess the cost and performance of this technology.

MR ESTCP POY 2021 2

One of eleven side-scan detection maps interrogating areas 100m by 700m, with the 5th circle from the left being identified using acoustic color as a 155mm Howitzer round.

In previous SERDP projects ( MR-1513, MR-2103), the project team explored and successfully developed the sonar technology for detection and classification of underwater proud and buried UXO. A principal innovation introduced in these efforts was the exploitation of acoustic color to support target classification. The team’s improved system (the Skyfish) was designed to add to this imaging capability the ability to generate high quality acoustic color maps to support feature-based target identification. The Skyfish was demonstrated in Boston Harbor scanning three blind target fields.

For this important work, Dr. Joseph Bucaro and his project team received the 2021 ESTCP Project of the Year Award for Munitions Response.

Project Leader:

  • Joseph Bucaro – Naval Research Laboratory

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