Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Tooele Army Depot to Store Rocket Motors for Missile Defense Agency

By Linda Loebach

Joint Munitions Command Public Affairs News Feature

2013 January 14

TOOELE ARMY DEPOT, Utah -- After a year of meticulous planning and preparation, Tooele Army Depot has begun to receive and store first- and second-stage C-4 rocket motors from the Trident I C-4 Fleet Ballistic Missile/Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile from the Missile Defense Agency.

In August of 2011, Missile Defense Agency, or MDA, approached Tooele Army Depot, known as TEAD, with the proposal to store large rocket motors there.

MDA considered TEAD's location favorable due to several factors.

First, TEAD has decades of experience in moving and storing munitions, and possesses ample storage facilities.

In addition, MDA is familiar with TEAD because its Minuteman motors were stored at TEAD in the 1980s.

And, MDA appreciates TEAD's proximity to Utah Test and Training Range, Hill Air Force Base, and Dugway Proving Ground. Also, in the event that a need for repair to a motor arises, the producer/repairer of solid rocket propulsion systems, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), is located nearby in Bacchus, Utah.

TEAD is taking over the management of nearby Deseret Chemical Depot as DCD's mission to demilitarize its stockpile of chemical weapons is complete. The MDA missile rocket motors will be stored in magazines at that site, to be renamed Tooele South.

"This is a great opportunity to utilize existing resources that we gain with the transfer of DCD to TEAD," said Col. Christopher O. Mohan, commander at TEAD. "The C-4 rocket motor program gives us the opportunity to learn new ammunition skills. And it's another way that we can support the joint force."

MDA funded TEAD $1.15 million to modify 10 earth-covered magazines to safely store the large rocket motors at Tooele South. TEAD completed a complex series of steps in the modification process.

One of the first steps was to determine temperature and humidity conditions in the magazines. Rocket motor storage in the magazines requires temperatures to remain between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity to be between 20 to 30 percent relative humidity. For two months, humidity and temperature readings in the magazines were recorded.

It was determined that there was no need to modify the humidity or to cool the magazines for motor storage, but heaters were installed. Alarms also were installed to warn facility employees in the event of a heater malfunction. Electrical upgrades for the heaters included supplying transformer and power lines to each magazine.

Three of the 10 magazines previously had stored items used in chemical decontamination and day-to-day support operations at DCD's chemical disposal plant and were found to contain traces of chemicals. In preparation for use as storage for the rocket motors, these magazines were cleaned according to state regulatory requirements to eliminate all chemical traces.

Another step in the modification process included installation of a shipping and receiving ramp so that the rocket motors can be off-loaded or up-loaded close to the magazines. Lightning protection systems were positioned at the ramp.

Also, an available straddle carrier was disassembled and transported from Huntsville, Ala., to TEAD where it was reassembled and tested. Then, TEAD personnel were trained in its use.

TEAD's straddle carrier is a canary-yellow, two-story, non-road-use vehicle which literally straddles and then picks up and slowly carries the motors to the magazines.

A storage tank at TEAD South was modified to house MDA's equipment, including the straddle carrier.

In another phase of the modification process, rail systems in each magazine were installed and grounded.

At the shipping and receiving ramp, each motor will roll off a transfer truck on a metal trailer. Then the straddle carrier will pick up the motor and move it to a magazine where the motor and its trailer will be set onto tracks and roll right into the magazine for storage.

Each magazine will store up to four first-stage motors, which measure 185 inches long, or eight second-stage motors, each measuring 99 inches long.

The 10 magazines were upgraded from a 1.3, mass fire, hazard class to a 1.1, mass detonation, hazard class for maximum safety of the motor storage. Both motors are rated at a hazard class of 1.1, and the magazines are rated for 250,000 pounds net explosive weight.

Also, as part of the preparation to receive MDA's rocket motors, TEAD employees obtained specialized training. Although employees who work in ammunition operations are trained to handle all types of ammunition in TEAD's day-to-day mission, a team from ATK and MDA provided additional training for safety procedures used to handle such large rocket motors and the unique equipment involved.

The win-win collaboration between MDA and TEAD is expected to continue for many years to come. MDA will fund TEAD to store, maintain and transport its rocket motors, and TEAD will provide the facilities and expertise to safely carry out the mission.

Part of Joint Munitions Command, Tooele Army Depot's mission is to support warfighter readiness through superior receipt, storage, issue, demilitarization and renovation of conventional ammunition and the design, manufacture, fielding and maintenance of ammunition peculiar equipment.

From its headquarters in Rock Island, Ill., oint Munitions Command operates a nationwide network of conventional ammunition manufacturing plants and storage depots, and provides on-site ammunition experts to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. Joint Munitions Command's customers are U.S. forces of all military services, other U.S. Government agencies, and allied nations.

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