Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division mine warfare (MIW) experts completed their first major milestone of the Allied Munitions Detection Underwater (ALMOND-U) Initiative, a joint project with an organization under the German Navy, on Sept. 19, 2016.
NSWC PCD partnered with Bundeswehr Technical Center for Ships and Naval Weapons, Maritime Technology and Research for ALMOND-U via the Coalition Warfare Program and the Naval International Program Office.
The MIW experts traveled to the Baltic Sea to conduct underwater surveys with various technologies, including acoustic and magnetic sensors, operating side by side with comparable German systems. This enables each nation to examine the differences and to learn from one another with the goal of advancing technologies and techniques for detection, classification and mapping of bottom and buried munitions.
The joint survey was conducted with both nations deploying these unmanned underwater vehicle(UUV) based detection systems over multiple sites known to be contaminated with unexploded ordinance (UXO) dating back to World War II.
NSWC PCD Scientist Dr. Jesse I. Angle said the Baltic Sea survey was mutually beneficial to both nations.
“During the survey, we collected fantastic data over a myriad of UXO sites in the Baltic Sea. We collected data against new targets and operated in new environments, both of which help feed future developments,” said Angle. “We successfully operated alongside the Germans and collected similar data that will allow system comparisons, differences in concept of operations, launch and recovery, data processing, etc.”
Because technologies employed in this project originated in the mine countermeasures (MCM) community, NSWC PCD, the U.S. Navy’s leader in MIW and MCM, was chosen to be the main technical lead to represent the U.S.
Angle said both the U.S. and Germany have been developing UXO and MCM detection technologies, including magnetic, acoustic and electro-optic systems, often mounted onboard UUVs, making this multi-national collaboration valuable.
“It only makes sense for MIW experts from each nation to collaborate, share lessons learned and developments made,” he said. “This learning and collaboration with each other will better both nation’s technological advances.”
Additionally, military personnel from NSWC PCD’s Fleet Liaison Office, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Dill and Petty Officer Second Class Andrew Boe, supported the ALMOND-U initiative during the Baltic Sea survey. Dill served as one of two test directors and Petty Officer Boe served as a REMUS600 UUV operator for the survey.
“Both Lt. Cmdr. Dill and Petty Officer Boe performed exceptionally and pushed themselves above and beyond to effectively and efficiently get the job done,” said Angle.
Now that the Baltic Sea survey is complete, representatives from each respective nation will separately analyze data they’ve collected and reconvene in February 2017 in the U.S. to share lessons learned and results gained from the survey’s findings.
ALMOND-U was formed as a cooperative research and development project between the U.S. and a German organization to enhance the ability to utilize UUVs to detect, classify, localize and map underwater munitions in challenging and harsh environments with an emphasis on buried objects.
The ultimate deliverables expected from ALMOND-U are a detailed technical report on sea trials, sensor/test bed, signal and information processing techniques, hardware and software developments and transition recommendations.