Multi-Sensor Towbody for Underwater Munitions Response
Researchers and engineers from the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory have developed a preliminary design for an integrated system to detect and classify unexploded ordnance in shallow water. Their Multi-Sensor Towbody (MuST) is intended to survey depths from 20 – 120 feet deep (6 – 36 meters) by accurately controlling the height and location of sensors above the seabed while being towed by a support vessel. The system has a swath width of 18.8 meters when towed at 5 meters altitude.
Unlike highly-classified sensors used for mine countermeasures, the design uses sophisticated commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components that can be operated by civilian contractors. The integrated MuST system consists of:
- A FOCUS-3 towbody made by MacArtney Underwater Technology to controllably maintain sensor height above the seabed while being towed by the vessel.
- An Edgetech 1600 kHz side-scan sonar giving seabed images of 1cm pixel size.
- A wide-band (5- 35 kHz) eBOSS sonar giving image voxels of ~10 cm (even if buried) for objects within the top 2 meters of seabed. Wide-band sonars can also create an “ acoustic fingerprint” to classify buried munitions.
- Power, weight and data capacity for mounting other sensors on the towbody, such as magnetometers.
- Data acquisition, navigation, winch and handling systems that can be installed on a modest-sized tow vessel.
The MuST towbody supports two types of sonar as well as future sensors
SERDP-ESTCP researchers have investigated innovative acoustic, electromagnetic and magnetic sensors to detect, classify and locate underwater munitions at DoD sites in water depths of 0 – 120 feet deep. Each sensor modality has advantages and disadvantages due to its underlying physics. The MuST design shows how multiple sensors can be integrated into a commercially-viable system, while also being able to accept future sensors. Please contact the Munitions Response Program Manager if you have further questions about this research area.