The Lake Travis Test Station is a specialized facility capable of year-round testing and underwater acoustics research located near Mansfield Dam. The original facility was constructed in 1952 as part of the laboratory’s first contract with the Navy to study minehunting sonar. Lake Travis is an ideal location for simulating an at-sea environment. In order to accommodate significant water-level fluctuations in Lake Travis, designers created a floating facility made of Navy-supplied pontoons supporting a few Quonset huts. Over the years, the facility has expanded to include a large building, 12,000 square feet of deck space, and research and other support vessels. At this time, a renovation effort is underway, which will double the existing laboratory space as well as upgrade its equipment and systems. LTTS encompasses a series of air-conditioned buildings floating in 60-90 feet of water and anchored with electric hoists that allow adjustments based on lake levels. Also available is a 2,500 square foot auxiliary barge to test and calibrate heavy equipment, such as surface ship transducers. Researchers complete rigorous simulated at-sea and other testing of equipment and systems. This enhances our ability to provide durable, working prototypes and is the key to providing timely, efficient, and successful on-site installation of systems and equipment. One of the main functions of LTTS is providing traceable calibrations for underwater acoustic projectors and hydrophones. The facility also performs target strength measurements in free-field, proud, or buried conditions.
Onsite acoustic testing facilities allow researchers to save project time and funding by finding design or manufacture defects before full scale sea trials. An indoor sonar model tank offers a test space 12 feet deep, 15 feet wide and 60 feet long for high frequency calibration and testing. Outside, ARL:UT uses a large fir tank, 40 feet deep and 55 feet wide, that holds about 700,000 gallons of filtered, ambient temperature water. The outdoor tank is accessible from the precision machining facility via a 15-ton overhead bridge crane, and has been used for a variety of purposes, from acoustic testing to the evaluation of large subsea research equipment.
Precision machining technology allows machinists to import solid models directly from designers as inputs to the machining process. Additionally, machinists develop designs collaboratively from sketches or simply produce parts from traditional drawings. Equipment available includes multiple four-axis machining centers (CNC turret lathe and milling machines); manual mills, lathes and presses; a coordinate measurement machine that helps verify dimensional accuracy of parts; and comprehensive welding capabilities including tungsten inert gas, stick, and chamber welding.
The Research Dive Team is an integral part of ARL:UT testing capabilities that support underwater acoustic research and development projects. The dive team operates in the waters around the Lake Travis Test Station, in the outdoor test tank, and around the world whenever diving support for ARL:UT at-sea operations is required. Special capabilities of the dive team include underwater photography, high definition video documentation, underwater communications, and remotely operated vehicle operations.