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NSWC Panama City sensor test pool receives upgrades, provides optimal test environment

By Katherine Mapp | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | March 2, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. —

A testing asset at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) recently underwent renovations and received upgrades.

The Underwater Multi-Sensor (UMS) test pool, a 9-million gallon, oval-shaped, lined, freshwater test pool, received upgrades to advance testing capabilities such as testing of autonomy assessments for various novel maritime platforms, sonar measurements on various types of simulated training targets, and verification of acoustic release systems.

The facility provides an optimal testing environment to support the U.S. Navy’s effort to proliferate a technological advantage and maritime superiority in an increasingly dynamic security environment.

According to Lisa Arrieta, NSWC PCD acoustic test facility manager, users can deploy targets on the bottom of the test facility that are situated with the water-sand interface in various configurations such as proud targets on top of the sand, partially buried, or fully buried. The sand on the bottom of the UMS test pool provides users a relevant environment simulating the seabed for controlled measurements.

“The UMS test pool allows full-scale testing of acoustic, magnetic, seismic or optic sensor systems performance assessments against targets under realistic conditions,” said Arrieta. “Unmanned vehicles, both surface and underwater, can be operated at the facility.”

The renovation includes replacement of the test pool liner, increased filtration capacity and a new on-site chlorination system. The UMS test pool is coupled with an instrument building which can house support equipment such as data acquisition systems, computers and camera monitors.

Arrieta said the UMS test pool and accompanying instrument building was constructed with non-ferrous material making it magnetically clean.

“Because of the magnetically clean environment, sensors and systems studying the effects of target/vehicle magnetic fields can be tested in the pool. It is a controlled environment with realistic conditions that allows fundamental understanding of system performance for developing Navy and Marine Corps systems,” said Arrieta. “This facility is a cost-efficient location to test systems in the preliminary testing stages to lower risks before at-sea measurements.”

Arrieta added that the excellent water clarity of the UMS test pool provides an optimal testing environment.

Additional equipment available for use at the UMS test pool includes a 22-meter diameter circular rail, a winch hoist lift system for equipment deployment, and a small floating barge.

The UMS test pool is one of four measurement facilities in the Acoustic Test Facility Service Cost Center, including the Barge, the Pier and the Small Scale Test Bed. Each facility has unique capabilities to measure underwater sensors.

The UMS facility can be used by any government agency, academia or commercial partners. To learn more about how your project can conduct tests at the UMS test pool, please contact Lisa Arrieta.