By Mr. Darryl Howlett (AMC)October 16, 2008
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -- At a time when the U.S. Armed Forces are deployed throughout the world, Holston Army Ammunition Plant is modernizing its facilities to produce newer, safer products for those protecting our freedom while providing a reliable source of explosives for numerous weapon systems.
Holston AAP, located in northeastern Tennessee in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, was completed in June 1942 to support the Allied war effort. It closed briefly in 1945 before reactivating in 1950 to support the Korean War conflict, and has been operational ever since.
Holston's mission is to manufacture Research Department Explosives and High Melting Explosives for inclusion in a wide variety of conventional munitions.
Research and development plays a vital role in the formulation of new and better explosives products. The facility is government-owned and contractor-operated and
BAE Systems has been the operating contractor since 1999.
"A robust modernization program is essential to maintaining this strategic asset and our modernization initiatives have been in full swing since 2006," said Jeffrey Pierson, engineering manager, at BAE Systems.
Pierson said the plant has an elaborate modernization plan focusing on upgrading both production and support facilities to provide reliable explosives production for the
future needs of the warfighter. The plan is also focused on providing facilities to produce the next generation of explosives for insensitive munitions.
"We commenced the modernization program by developing a modernization master plan, in conjunction with the government. Now, each year, we revisit the plan
and present this to the government for consideration. At a joint meeting with representatives from Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command and the local government staff we jointly prioritize which projects add the most value in terms of an economic and critical impact."
From the Joint Munitions Command's headquarters in Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., personnel work on funding the projects. A request for funding proposal is initiated from JMC.
At this point, BAE Systems develops a response to the RFP, which includes cost data and concept design estimates. After negotiations, projects are placed on contract
with BAE Systems for execution.
One of the more visible projects at Holston is the modernization of its steam plant. New EPA-mandated regulations for particulate discharge required modernization of the plant.
"The steam plant modernization is one of critical importance. It is a multi-million dollar project that will bring Holston's 1940s vintage coal-fired boilers and 1970s vintage
emission controls up to current standards," said Nancy Gray, Holston's media spokesperson.
Government staff and BAE officials said the basic infrastructure (power, steam, water, and auxiliary facilities) remain of the original 1940s vintage. As a result, the plant
must undergo an infrastructure modernization program over the next several years in order to mitigate the risks and costs associated with maintaining the aged infrastructure.
Another modernization project is the construction of a facility to produces explosives for the MK80 bomb program. This facility uses fluid energy milling technology to produce explosives which result in safer weapon systems.
"The plan addresses the need for facilities which manufacture explosives needed for next generation Insensitive Munitions programs, while providing the capability to
meet new environmental regulations," said Gray. "The plan also addresses the aging infrastructure of Holston, consolidating operations, significantly reducing the facilities
footprint, and reducing the ongoing operational costs."
The plan also includes relocating Holston's acids concentration facility, which is currently located seven miles from the main plant. This project will consolidate operations and bring improved efficiency while reducing the overall operational costs related to explosives production.
A relocation study was completed in 2007 and determined a $30 million net present value government savings by relocating this facility. Construction is scheduled
to start in 2010.
Other near-term modernization projects that are planned for fiscal year 2009
Aca,!Ac Removing RDX from wastewater streams
Aca,!Ac Upgrading facility chemical containment systems
Aca,!Ac Reducing NOx emissions
Aca,!Ac Modernizing raw material production facilities
Aca,!Ac Replacing the material handling equipment
Future projects include upgrades to the electrical and water distribution systems
and additional capability to produce reduced sensitivity explosives to meet insensitive munition program requirements.
"Holston is a well-managed, well-operated facility that is a strategic asset to the protection of our nation. But it is nearly 70 years old! The robust modernization program being jointly worked by government and contractor, in partnership, will ensure its continued value to our warfighters," said Bob Ragan, commander's representative at Holston AAP.