Proposals addressed survey techniques or recovery methods to find or remediate unexploded ordnance (UXO) and discarded military munitions at underwater sites, to reduce the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) current liabilities under the Military Munitions Response Program. Many sites affected by munitions have depths less than 5 meters, although water depths down to 35 meters are of concern. Aquatic environments include ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal or open ocean areas. Munitions of interest range from small projectiles and mortars to large bombs. Technologies proposed may address only a subset of the entire range of potential munitions or environments. ESTCP has particular interest in technologies addressing the following areas:
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. SERDP & ESTCP has developed a full range of physics-based sensors and will continue to support transition to operational status; the program will continue to monitor sensor research progress for novel, innovative advances that have potential for use.
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. An understanding of geophysical conditions coupled with munition properties at the transition point of stationary to mobile behavior is a critical goal.
Relevant existing projects can be viewed on the ESTCP website.
ESTCP issued one topic area of general interest through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to the private sector:
DoD investigators were encouraged to submit proposals through the DoD submittal process that responds to this BAA topic area.