The Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS) was originally intended for use on land. But due to the nature of the conflict on the ground in Syria, designers from the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC) redesigned FDHS into a ship-based system.
During concept development, it was undecided if the FDHS was going to be operated at an undisclosed location in theater or by technical operators on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. So how did the engineers design in the face of the unknown? Exhaustive research.
A team of analysts comprised of personnel from ECBC and the Army Materials Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA) produced the FDHS Risk Reduction and System Enhancement Study, which was used to inform the design, manufacturing and testing of the system.
As a result of their exceptional efforts, they were awarded the 2014 Department of the Army Dr. Wilbur B. Payne Award for Excellence in Systems Analysis, Large Group Category. The award recognizes the best large- and small-group operations research analyses conducted in the previous year by Army analysis organizations.
The award nomination endorsement letter states, “This was an incredible opportunity for analysis to shape decisions, systems, procedures and deployments. The FDHS crew successfully destroyed Syria’s chemical warfare agents. The mission was unprecedented and a first of its kind in the history of chemical and biological defense.”
“This was a great team effort between AMSAA and ECBC to provide a timely solution to a complex problem of international significance,” said Clarke Fox, chief of AMSAA’s Logistics Analysis Division.
The ECBC and AMSAA team provided analysis that shaped leadership decisions regarding system installments, operating procedures and equipment deployments. Because the FDHS was originally designed as a land-based system, each of these areas came with its own set of design challenges, forcing the team to constantly assess the environment and iterate new solutions dependent on the at-sea situation.
For example, engineers had to consider how the vibrations of the ship’s engines would impact the neutralization process or how the roll of the waves would affect the laboratory equipment.
Image courtesy of ECBC.