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NEWS | June 15, 2022

NSWC IHD Hosts Ribbon Cutting to Declare Its Agile Chemical Facility Open for Business

By NSWC Indian Head Division Public Affairs

Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil its state-of-the-art Agile Chemical Facility (ACF), June 13. The $100 million liquid nitrate ester manufacturing facility is a critical capability for the Navy and the Defense Industrial Base Sector.

The ACF consolidates the capabilities of both the legacy Biazzi and Moser nitration facilities — built in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively — into one highly automated complex capable of production-scale manufacturing of six different liquid nitrate esters used in various Department of Defense (DoD) products. The facility’s production will greatly surpass its legacy plant predecessors with a capacity of up to 2,000 pounds of Otto fuel II per hour, which equates to over 1 million pounds per year. Developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, Otto fuel II is a monopropellant used to drive torpedoes and other weapon systems.

“The ACF is an asset to the Navy and DoD. It delivers on all aspects and helps us deliver on the strategic competition,” said Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Hawn, who emphasized how the relationship between the DoD, industry and the community played a pivotal role in bringing the facility to life.

The ACF represents a long-term modernization effort and partnership between the Naval Sea Systems Command, NAVFAC, Naval Support Activity South Potomac and industry to upgrade process equipment and facilities. Their combined efforts integrated safety and environmental improvements, such as the ability to monitor and control hazardous operations remotely and a reduction of detonable materials in process.

 “Our goal is to supply the warfighter with the equipment to win the fight,” said Commander, NSWC/Naval Undersea Warfare Center Rear Adm. Kevin Byrne. “The pointy end of the spear was always produced here at Indian Head. We now take the next great step to make sure our men and women have what they need to outpace our adversaries.”

NSWC IHD Technical Director Ashley Johnson closed out the ceremony by recognizing the unique aspects of the facility and the combined effort it took to reach this occasion.

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to utilize facilities such as the one we’re in today. We have a host of critical chemicals here and we couldn’t do it without the most advanced nitrate facility,” said Johnson. “It gives me great joy to be able to look those of you who made this happen in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ Now, let’s use this to defend the nation as it was intended.”


NSWC IHD — a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit and dispose of explosive ordnance threats.