U.S. Army Benét Laboratories at Watervliet Arsenal recently hosted an offsite Technical Committee meeting for the Weapon Systems and Platforms program area of SERDP and ESTCP. Benét Laboratories is responsible for the research, design, development, producibility, and field support for the Army’s large caliber cannons. The co-location of arsenal manufacturing and Benét Labs offers military and civilian business entities a one-stop shop for research, design, prototype development, full manufacturing, and long-term customer service. Watervliet is the oldest continuously active arsenal in the United States, and has continued to produce much of the artillery for the U.S. Army since 1813.
The meeting provided an opportunity for technical experts from across the Services, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to discuss current SERDP and ESTCP efforts and technology transition of environmental technologies that enhance and sustain the DoD mission. Participants toured the site’s research, manufacturing, chrome plating, and other metallurgical facilities.
Several SERDP and ESTCP projects are currently being conducted at the U.S. Army Benét Laboratories. A project on the elimination of hexavalent chromium in plating processes is being led by Mark Miller (WP-201111). In this effort, the project team is using explosive bonding as an innovative approach to the deposition of tantalum to provide a layer of bore protection within gun barrels. Chris Humiston is leading a project (WP-201522) to develop improvements in manufacturing processes by combining electrochemical machining (ECM) with electrowinning as a means to plate metal ions, preventing heavy metal sludge formation and reducing hazardous waste streams by up to 90%. Finally, in combination with previous work, Frank Campo (WP-201618) is leading an effort to demonstrate abrasive waterjet milling to rifle and hone explosively bonded tantalum gun barrels.
Pictured below are members of the SERDP and ESTCP Weapon Systems & Platforms Technical Committee standing alongside several cannons on display at Watervliet Arsenal. The rock wall in the background is the remains of the original retaining wall from the Erie Canal that ran through the Arsenal from 1825 to 1923. Water was taken from the canal to operate the first powered machinery in the Gun Carriage shop.