Demonstration projects were sought for technologies to detect, classify, or remediate military munitions found at underwater sites. Technologies that would facilitate management of underwater munitions sites were also of interest. Capabilities were needed for a wide variety of aquatic environments such as ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal and open ocean areas. Munitions of interest range from small projectiles and mortars to large bombs, although proposals did not need to address the entire range of potential munitions with a single solution. Many of the sites of interest have depths less than 5 meters although water depths up to 35 meters were of concern.
Proposed technologies should have completed required proof-of-concept work showing evidence of the technology’s capabilities. Initial demonstrations may be at a controlled test site, in which case subsequent testing at live munitions response sites would depend on the performance demonstrated during the controlled tests. Demonstrations directly on live sites, with appropriate supporting performance information, were also considered.
Technologies applicable to the detection and remediation of explosives in soil or groundwater were not responsive to this topic but may have been relevant to the ESTCP Environmental Restoration program area.
ESTCP has particular interest in technologies addressing the following topics:
Geophysical Description of Live Sites. Effective and efficient use of detection, localization and classification systems requires a detailed knowledge of the geophysical environment in which they will operate. Methods and techniques to provide that information is requested. Attention to scales of typical ordnance is required to anticipate the clutter conditions of the sites. Areal scales of sites range from 100’s to 1000’s of km2. Some locations will, in addition to spatial scale variability, have hydrodynamic variability, requiring a time-based element of condition(s) change.
Wide Area and/or Detailed Survey Techniques. Systems are needed to cost-effectively survey large (kilometer-scale) areas to identify concentrations of munitions. Tools are also sought to provide evidence an area may have been used infrequently or may not have been used for munitions-related activities. Technologies addressing this aspect of the problem must provide high areal coverage rates but may be successful with only modest probabilities of detection and classification. In areas found likely to be contaminated, subsequent detailed data collection may be required to define the nature and extent of munitions contamination. In this regime, individual items must be detected with high probability and sufficient location accuracy that they may be unambiguously identified for retrieval or continued monitoring. Proposals addressing novel sensors, platform integration, or large-scale collection of field data at real munitions sites will be considered.
Cost-Effective Recovery and Disposal Methods. Improved and innovative methods are urgently needed to recover munitions cost-effectively and safely from the underwater environment. Current practices employing divers for manual retrieval of targets are typically dangerous and expensive. Proposals should focus on recovery in the shallow water environment where munitions are likely to be encountered by the public (to depths routinely accessed by recreational divers) and should address explosive safety issues. Consideration of robotic methods for retrieval and removal are encouraged. Cost-effective, safe, and environmentally acceptable remediation techniques are also needed for underwater items that cannot be moved due to explosive safety concerns and where blow-in-place operations underwater can significantly impact marine life and place chemicals into the human food chain. Thought must be given to means of isolation for this circumstance, isolation of both the explosive process and the resultant debris.
Mobility and Transport of Munitions. SERDP and ESTCP have been supporting research involving the burial and/or mobility of underwater munitions when subjected to underwater environmental forces. Improved understanding of munitions transport and fate may help inform site munitions response management decisions. Proposals to test and demonstrate/validate models addressing this topic will be considered.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.