Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division
Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division

INDIAN HEAD, Md. — Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) was recently name a winner in the 2022 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) National Awards Program, earning the Excellence in Technology Transfer Award. NSWC IHD is the only Navy command to receive an FLC Award this year. 

The FLC Awards Program annually recognizes federal laboratories and their industry partners for outstanding technology transfer achievements. The Excellence in Technology Transfer Award recognizes employees of FLC member laboratories and non-laboratory staff who accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally-developed technology. 

NSWC IHD received the award for its efforts in developing Silent Spring, a technology that desensitizes homemade explosives (HME). HMEs are extremely sensitive and unpredictable; a stray spark, a change in temperature, exposure to sunlight, or even an accidental bump can set them off. 

Silent Spring shields volatile explosive materials from these potential triggers. This allows explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) warfighters and law enforcement personnel to more safely move the explosive materials, while preserving forensic evidence and minimizing damage to existing infrastructure. 

Silent Spring is a thick semi-liquid substance that is poured over an explosive, desensitizing the energetic components by surrounding them with a rubbery material that minimizes the effects of external triggers. The technology gets its name from its ability to keep a volatile explosive device “silent,” and the fact that the rubber-like material springs back to its original form after an impact. 

The technology transfer (T2) involved a string of successful T2 mechanisms facilitated by Dr. Chris Wilhelm, NSWC IHD’s technology transfer program manager. A cooperative research and development agreement, a license agreement and the command’s designation as a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence all helped justify a special public-private partnership (P3) agreement with Grey Ops. Signed in 2019, the P3 agreement established a unique relationship in which NSWC IHD would produce the Silent Spring material in bulk to maintain quality control and allow Grey Ops to package and sell the end product. 

”Successful [T2] activities require a team effort,” said Wilhelm. “This award could not have happened without the significant contributions of the inventors, Ken Bassom and Bryan Milani; our EOD Customer Advocate Ken Poe; the command’s CITE team, Scott Wilmoth and Scott Mckee; and of course our commercialization partner Grey Ops.” 

“I’d be lying if I said that getting to this point has been easy. But with partners like Wilhelm and McKee, we have made the impossible possible,” said Grey Ops CEO Steve Luginbill. “We can’t say enough about their support for not only us but also for all those in the [T2] community.” 

Silent Spring is now available commercially and is approved within the Department of Defense (DoD) to address the highest priority EOD threats. The partnership has already provided hundreds of product units to DoD EOD end-users for demonstration and training, and will soon do the same for the civilian public safety and law enforcement communities. 

“This collaboration is one of many we have across the command that deliver innovative technologies to the warfighter,” said NSWC IHD Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Correll. “The faster we can get new innovative products to our warfighters and our first responder partners, the better.” 

“[T2] is a vital component of our mission, and this award is recognition of the command’s efforts to execute our goals,” said NSWC IHD Technical Director Ashley Johnson. “The collaboration and partnership between the command and Grey Ops leverage existing capability. The transfer of federally-developed technology can also have a positive effect on the greater scientific research community, the commercial sector, the economy, consumers and the public.” 

This year’s FLC National Awards winners will be recognized at the 2022 FLC national meeting April 6, in Cleveland, Ohio. 

NSWC IHD — a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics, and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit and dispose of explosive ordnance threats. 

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