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Army kicks off Ordnance Reef technology demonstration

July 14, 2011

By Russell K Dodson

FORD ISLAND, Hawaii - The Ordnance Reef technology demonstration that will be used during a three-week demonstration of remote recovery and barge-mounted destruction technologies of munitions off Ordnance Reef near the Waianae coast received a Hawaiian bless during its debut July 8 on Ford Island, Hawaii.

The Ordnance Reef demonstration will allow the Army and the Department of Defense to determine whether these technologies meet DoD’s requirements for safe, remote recovery of underwater military munitions, said Hershell, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for the environment.

“This demonstration is an exciting part of a larger effort of the DoD as it seeks to develop a better understanding of sea disposed munitions in an ocean environment,” he said.

After several years of close coordination and planning with the Leeward communities and state and federal agencies, the Army plans to conduct the 21-day technology demonstration to assess the feasibility of adapting remotely operated technology, or robots, said Wolfe.

The technologies being demonstrated during the three-week demontration are called remotely operated underwater munitions recovery system (ROUMRS) and the energetic hazards demilitraization system (EHDS).

ROUMRS is an innovative use of commercial off-the-shelf technology that employs a remotely operated vehicle and techniques adapted from underwater search and recovery efforts.

ROUMRS consists of an off-the-shelf remote operated vehicle that has been retrofitted with manipulator arms, detachable salvage baskets, a hopper, recovery skids, video cameras, light-emitting diode lights, suction and jetting pumps, filters, sensors, and other appurtenances. Sensor equipment includes: scanning SONAR, wide angle and zooming cameras, pan/tilt camera mounts, underwater lighting, surface and subsurface navigation gear, and topside data archiving hardware and software.

EHDS consists of two complementary technologies: cutting technology (band saw), and radiant/convection batch ovens. EHDS’s cutting technology is designed to remotely cut recovered military munitions to expose the explosive munitions constituents fill for thermal treatment in the radiant/convection batch ovens. The remote cutting of military munitions also constitutes demilitarization.

The radiant/convection batch ovens is designed to thermally treat an explosive munitions constituents fill until it non-explosively decomposes degrades to non-hazardous materials.

“When we are done with the process all we have is the steel which we recycle locally,” said Spencer Nelsen, ARA, Inc. “The residue we’ll have is a fine pizza like ash which is absolutely non-hazardous and non-toxic. It is a very clean process.”

After thermal the treatment, any resulting scrap metal will be inspected and, if appropriate, certified as material documented as safe, making it available for recycling.

The Army plans to post updates throughout and upon completion of the performance of this project, including video from the various remotely operated vehicles.

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