Topic #: N2003-067
Sponsor: PEO SUB
Status: Phase II completed.
TRL: 7
Need: The Navy has established strict controls to limit both occupational and environmental exposures to lead.
Operational Gap: A tin-plated lead tape is used within the Flex-Hose as a ballast to prevent entanglement with the guidance wire when deployed. The tin-plated lead tape can breakdown, exposing sailors to lead dust.
Specifications: The ballast must not impact the performance of the current Flex Hose Assembly. It must meet MIL-STD-810F and be compatible with existing Mk10 Mod 2 TMD design and mate with existing connections.

The Mk48 Mod 5 and Mod 6 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) Heavyweight Torpedo is a primary submarine weapon that fulfills both anti-submarine and anti-surface roles and is considered a primary weapon for the United States Navy (USN) Submarine fleet. The torpedo employs a post Launch guidance wire communications link that provides accurate data exchange between the recently fired torpedo and the submarine. This link is achieved via the use of a Torpedo Mounted Dispenser (TMD) Mk10 Mod 1 that is secured in the Submarine’s torpedo tube independently from the torpedo. The TMD utilizes a hollow flexible hose which houses the guidance wire. The Flex-Hose is used to position the guidance wire below the submarine’s keel and clear of the propellers. A lead tape ballast is used within the Flex-Hose to make it heavy enough so that the submarine can travel through the water at high speeds without the guidance wire entangling with its propeller. At the end of the torpedoes run the flex-hose is expended into the ocean.
Flex Hose

In recognition of the serious health hazards associated with lead ingestion and the numerous sources of potential lead exposure, the Navy has established strict controls to limit both occupational and environmental exposures. While there are no existing requirements for removing the lead ballast material from the flex-hose the Navy recognizes that there are health hazards associated with ingestion of lead and that the use of lead in torpedo operations can result in an undesirable waste stream.

The new ballast tape is encapsulated with LDPE to minimize production cost and protect the sailor and the environment. In addition to cost advantages, this approach had minimal impact on the current manufacturing process of the Flex Hose assembly.