12 June, 2014

Neoteric manufactures ordnance detection / mapping hovercraft for Tetra Tech

Sometimes a commercial hovercraft is the only vehicle that can get the job done. And, as Tetra Tech discovered, often a Neoteric HoverTrek is the only hovercraft suitable for the job.

Based in California, Tetra Tech is a global consulting, engineering, construction management and technical services firm with 14,000 employees and 330 offices worldwide. Tetra Tech also provides disaster management and Homeland Security services; it has responded to more than 2,000 chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive events, as well as natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and tornados. Their clients vary from small local public agencies and private companies to multi-national corporations and national governments.

When Tetra Tech was contracted to conduct a major ordnance detection and mapping project in the Caribbean that involves equipment transport and detection over fragile coral reefs, the company’s Senior Geophysicist, Richard Funk and Ordnance Removal Specialist David Bennett came to Neoteric to test the capabilities of our craft and undergo pilot training at Hovercraft Training Centers.

Tetra Tech personnel complete pilot training at Hovercraft Training Centers. From left: HTC Flight Instructor Steve Stafford; Richard Funk; HTC Senior Flight Instructor/Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald; and David Bennett.
After a challenging day of training on the ice-encrusted Wabash River, Funk and Bennett felt even more strongly that the HoverTrek was up to the tasks facing Tetra Tech – especially when they learned that Neoteric would custom-build their craft to be fitted with one-of-a-kind equipment specially developed by Tetra Tech.

As Funk explained, “The hovercraft is for going places you can’t go with conventional craft, places that are too shallow for a boat, places you can’t walk. I develop systems for detecting munitions. We try to push it to the next level so we can go places other people can’t go.”

Tetra Tech’s Neoteric hovercraft has definitely reached the next level, equipped with special systems such as the TEMA – a Tetra Tech in-house developed Time domain ElectroMagnetic induction Array, essentially a large metal detector. Richard Funk describes the unique capabilities of the TEMA: “Unlike a magnetometer, the TEMA is an active sensor that can detect all metals (not just ferro-magnetic ones like a magnetometer). Another advantage of an active electromagnetic sensor is that it is focused and is not adversely affected by nearby metal structures, such as piers, bulkheads, bridges, etc.

He continues, “The first job that the new hovercraft will work on is surveying over coral reefs in the Caribbean in search of military munitions (MEC/UXO – Munitions & Explosives of Concern/Unexploded Ordnance). Tetra Tech developed this system to go where no boat can go, and where sensitive habitat is only inches below the water surface.”

Here, the TEMA prototype is tested by Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald on an HTC Neoteric training hovercraft …

The customizations Neoteric performed on Tetra Tech’s hovercraft included: Mounting points for the TEMA sensor array, mounts for the TEMA electronic modules, mounts for the pilot’s display and for the data collector’s display, three TEMA battery mounts, a table for the data collector, two GPS antenna mounts and a bimini top.

Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald completes performance testing of the Tetra Tech hovercraft on the Wabash River.
Interior view of the Tetra Tech hovercraft, showing many of its customizations.
Tetra Tech is a company with a strong focus on sustainability. Their stated mission is to “’meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,’ as proposed by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development.” The pairing of the Neoteric hovercraft’s low environmental footprint with the TEMA system is an excellent example of how the perfect vehicle for the job can also be the perfect vehicle for the environment, allowing personnel to work safely and efficiently while protecting coral reefs and sensitive habitat.

The Tetra Tech Caribbean ordnance detection project is just the beginning. We look forward to bringing you more news and photos about the accomplishments of Tetra Tech and their specialized hovercraft. As Richard Funk reports, “We plan on using our hovercraft with many other sensor systems, including bathymetric and laser line scanners.”

Learn more about Tetra Tech at www.tetratech.com