PANAMA CITY, Florida - Mine warfare experts from Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) are preparing for the first major milestone of Allied Munitions Detection Underwater (ALMOND), a joint project with a German organization, in September, the Navy announced.
The mine warfare experts will be taking technology to the Baltic Sea, including acoustic and magnetic sensors, to operate side by side with comparable German systems to see the differences and to learn from one another with the goal of advancing technologies and techniques for the detection, classification, and mapping of bottom and buried munitions.
"There is a significant worldwide capability shortfall in reliable techniques for mapping underwater munitions for unexploded ordnance remediation and hunting buried and stealthy sea mines in complex environments," said Dr. Jesse Angle, NSWC PCD physicist. "We are seeking to bring together the best of our unexploded ordnance (UXO) detection capabilities and merge them with those of the Germans, so that both countries can learn and benefit from developments ongoing in the other country."
According to Angle, not only will this collaboration be beneficial to the nations involved, but also the warfighter. The evaluation of novel foreign and domestic unmanned autonomous survey concepts allows for increased capability for mapping underwater munitions. This also gives the warfighter increased capability for hunting submerged and silent sea mines in intricate environments.
ALMOND, which began in January 2015, seeks to develop, test, and evaluate novel unmanned autonomous survey concepts through international sea trials and workshops. Additionally, the goal is to develop and deliver a mature system concept design to Naval Sea Systems Command Expeditionary Missions program office, SEA 06XM (PMS 408) for transition into the U.S. Navy's fleet. PMS 408 is the U.S. Navy program management office for explosive ordnance disposal, counter radio controlled improvised explosive device electronic welfare, and anti-terrorism afloat systems.
"A lot of technology being employed in this project originated in the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) community," said Angle. "Because NSWC PCD is the U.S. Navy's leader in MIW and MCM, I'd like to think that is just makes sense for our team to locate UXO through our research, development, test and evaluation."
NSWC PCD is partnering with Bundeswehr Technical Center for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research in Northern Germany for ALMOND via the Coalition Warfare Program and the Naval International Program Office.
The ultimate deliverables expected from the project are a detailed technical report on Sea Trials, sensor/test bed, signal and information processing techniques, hardware and software developments and transition recommendations.
To date, other milestones have included: a technical workshop in the U.S. focused on big picture survey requirements during winter 2015, US observation of German Sea Trials in spring 2015, German observation of U.S. Sea Trials at a demonstration at Naval Air Station Patuxent River during fall 2015, and a technical workshop in Germany during spring 2016, which focused on survey details and peer to peer exchange of data and processing techniques.