Unexploded ordnance (UXO) has emerged as one of Department of Defense's (DoD) most pressing environmental cleanup problems. UXO presents a threat to active military installations seeking to manage and clean their test and training ranges, as well as to sites designated for base realignment and closure (BRAC), and to formerly used defense sites (FUDS).

The goal of the MUDSS project is to demonstrate multi-sensor technologies necessary for underwater surveys of shallow water, both inland and coastal sites, littered with unexploded ordnance (UXO). A successful demonstration will prove the system concepts for finding and mapping the locations of UXO targets ranging from small shells to large bombs in water depths between four and 100 feet. These technologies then can be applied to the environmental clean up of underwater UXO targets at scores of formerly used defense sites.

Technical Approach

MUDSS works by combining sonar and Electro-Optical Identification Sensor (EIS) technologies in a single submersible, torpedo-like vehicle that feeds high-speed data to a mothership via a fiber optic cable.


The exact extent and amount of ordnance at most underwater formerly used defense sites is unknown. MUDSS will provide a capability to survey these sites to determine the extent of the problem and to locate targets for remediation. The development cost of this system has been minimized by using hardware and software components from parallel Navy and National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) programs.

As part of the final year of SERDP funding, researchers planned to complete integration of sensors and perform field tests. The unfortunate Swissair Flight 111 mishap in 1998 offered researchers the opportunity to determine the capabilities of MUDSS in a real-world operational setting. MUDSS successfully allowed the search team to define the debris field quickly and accurately in Peggy's Cove, located off the coast of Nova Scotia. The MUDSS-based technology was tested under real-world conditions while performing a valuable service to the Canadian search team. Advanced systems such as MUDSS even can outperform human divers, which the Canadians have extensively used in "Operation Persistence" in Peggy's Cove.

The MUDSS sensor package enables the Navy to use the sonar to locate objects on the ocean floor and then to use the EIS to zoom in and identify those objects at closer ranges. In FY 1998, hardware and software modifications were made to the original MUDSS data collection system to support system design changes. MUDSS is a joint U.S. Navy and NASA effort executed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).