Significant investment has been made to develop technologies and approaches to detect munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) and assess the effects of MEC constituents on the environment and those who interact with it. However, the diversity of MEC types, disposal sites, environmental parameters, technologies and approaches has made it difficult to conduct systematic comparisons of the effectiveness of various methodologies. There exists a need to develop a munitions test range complex, essentially a suite of demonstration sites, for evaluating and comparing the efficacy of MEC tools. Based on the summary results of the Underwater unexploded ordinance (UXO) Standardized Demonstration Sites (Test Beds) Workshop, the test range complex should provide quick and easy access to a variety of environments, should include the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively deploy and recover both the range/targets and the technology being tested, and should be operated and maintained by personnel experienced with field operations and systems engineering [SERDP-ESTCP Final Report, 2018]. Given these priorities, Hawai'i is an ideal site for testing and evaluation. Hawai'i is characterized by a mild climate, underwater visibility that ranges from opaque to crystal clear, and an unparalleled number and variety of climatic zones and environmental settings. The research team will leverage experience with underwater UXO research and local settings to create a suite of testing environments around the island of O'ahu by developing a “mobile demonstration site.”
Rather than establish a fixed demonstration site, Hawai'i presents the option to develop a mobile demonstration site with multiple potential locations, thereby addressing more of the test bed parameters space with customizability depending upon the requirements of ESTCP and potential detection systems developers. As a new concept, the design and implementation of a mobile test site presents challenges that are not inherent to a fixed location. As such, the best methods to address these challenges can only be identified through testing and development in the field. Therefore, the research team will take an iterative approach to develop, test, and improve a mobile demonstration site for underwater UXO detection systems. Selecting from three potential locations currently monitored by the University of Hawai'i or partner organizations, this study will 1) investigate the process for implementing a mobile demonstration site, including site characterization, permitting, and target seed deployment/recovery, 2) conduct a scaled deployment and mock evaluation of an example technology at a monitored location, and 3) use lessons learned from the scaled deployment to host a full demonstration with a third-party system developer to further test and refine the mobile demonstration site design and recommended methods for evaluating detection systems.
The iterative approach presented in this proposal minimizes the time needed to implement a working mobile demonstration site, while allowing for the refinement of the design and practice of the demonstration site through practical evaluations of existing detection systems funded by ESTCP. The development of a mobile demonstration site in Hawai'i maximizes the range of environment type and site characteristics identified by ESTCP as those of interest. Further, the proximity to known UXO sites in Hawai'i would allow for live demonstration / evaluations of detection systems at sites containing real UXO. The results from the study will thus yield a fully developed mobile demonstration site ready for immediate use, as well as a set of standards and practices that can be applied at future demonstration site.