Naval and commercial shipping can benefit from three-dimensional images with detailed information on features encountered underwater. The most obvious benefit lies in ensuring the safe operations of vessels, but also curtailing smuggling by hiding cargo underneath the hull of a ship. For such an invention to be brought to the market, rigorous testing in a suitable facility is required.
The electro-acoustic underwater test facility at the CSIR is such a facility. It is key in the testing of underwater sonar transmitters, receivers and arrays in respect of their acoustic sensitivity, acoustic beam-patterns and electrical properties.
The electro-acoustic underwater test facility was originally established by the South African Navy (SAN) and is mostly funded through the CSIR, with support from Armscor. The facility permits the local characterisation of newly manufactured or refurbished transducers, providing significant cost and time savings. It permits acoustic testing, electrical testing, as well as high pressure (depth) testing.
The facility is one of two in South Africa, the other facility being in Cape Town under the control of the SAN at the Institute for Maritime Technology.
The facility has been upgraded with new instrumentation, automation technologies and testing software. It has been used in all sonar development projects undertaken by the CSIR for the SAN and to characterise all of the wet-end sonar transducers deployed on the SAN’s current submarines and Corvettes (surface vessels).
The facility can test underwater transducers from 3 to 500 kHz and simulate depths of up to 650 m.