Before baseline reconfiguration of 4.2-inch mortar rounds can begin, Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Plant ordnance technicians were required to demonstrate their skills using inert duplicates of chemical weapons.
“We successfully demonstrated the technical knowledge needed to perform baseline reconfiguration on 4.2-inch mortar rounds,” said Jacob Torres, operations superintendent, PCAPP. Baseline reconfiguration is the process of converting munitions from a ready-to-use configuration to a ready-to-process configuration.
In late March, the PCAPP reconfiguration team performed Integrated Operations Demonstrations, a validation process which displays readiness to perform a designated task, to key government agency representatives by reconfiguring inert rounds. ACWA Test Equipment, or ATE, was used to demonstrate the delivery of rounds from storage at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot to the PCAPP facility; the transfer of munitions to the Munitions Storage Magazine to await reconfiguration; the transfer of energetics to the Energetics Service Magazine to await off-site shipment; and a leaker contingency operation during which a simulated leaker was overpacked into a Single Round Container, said Torres.
The team reconfigured 48 ATE munitions by removing each munition from its wooden box and placing it onto a conveyor for transport to the Vapor Containment Room; removing the ATE from its fiberboard tube and placing it onto the monitoring table; exposing the munition for monitoring by a Miniature Continuous Air Monitoring System; removing the striker nut and retaining pin, which go to scrap metal, and propellant wafer charger and placing it into an energetic packaging tray at workstation #1; removing the ignitor cartridge and placing it into an energetic packaging tray at workstation #2; and detaching the rear assembly at workstation #3, Torres said.
Sixteen percent of the depot’s stockpile is made up of projectiles and mortar rounds in their original packaging. To prepare these munitions for processing through the plant’s automated system, trained ordnance technicians reconfigure, palletize and return the munitions to storage to await destruction.