White Sands Missile Range Community
Yuma Proving Ground Conditioning Chambers section transports close to six-million pounds of explosives yearly
Story by Ana Henderson on 07/08/2019
If you are on a munitions test site, you know once the white truck with the explosives’ sign arrives it is go time.
That truck is manned by one of the nearly 40 members of the conditioning chambers shop. These are the men who are responsible for getting the ammunition to each and every test site on YPG.
“We are so spread out on the range, we have some testing as far north as almost Quartzsite and then all the way on the east end of the range, as well as the far west of the range” said Billy Hamner, conditioning chambers supervisor.
Each piece of ammunition is handled at least twice, even three or four times by the conditioning chambers crew, explained Victor De La Rosa, section chief, “The initial time, we pick it up from the ammunition plant and transport it to the gun position where it’s requested. From there it’s loaded from the stake bed to the conditioning box to condition at the required temperatures.”
After the ammunition is conditioned for the required amount of time, usually 24 to 48 hours, the crew picks it up and delivers the ammunition to the gun.
Their duty does not end there, De La Rosa added. “Once a test is complete, if there is ammunition remaining its touched again there to be loaded back in the truck in its original packing and taken back to the ammunition plant.”
Such is the process for delivering ammunition to each test site.
Last fiscal year, this section along with the help of Ammunition Storage transported close to six-million pounds of explosives and nearly 675,000 items of ammunition.
In a typical week the crew supports 10-15 programs per day. De La Rosa gives an example of how a work week might look:
“Monday can be a heavy day of loading 200 rounds, as the week progresses we can be transporting and handling up to 1,000 rounds, if not more to support the following week’s tests. That’s not including small arm rounds.”
The weight of those round differs significantly as well. “It goes anywhere from small arms which can be a 50 caliber and its box weighing 75 pounds to a 155-mm round weighing roughly 110 pounds.”
It would not be an understatement to say the job is very physically demanding. “It is a very physical job and with this heat on a daily basis, it can put a good wear on you,” said De La Rosa.
This section works in shifts to cover night-time testing as well. Night shift also relocates the mobile conditioning chambers as well as pumping carbon dioxide (CO2).
Aside from transportation aspect of the position, the condition chambers section is responsible for maintaining the temperature-controlled chambers.
Tests call for rounds to be conditioned at various temperatures, from extremely hot to extremely cold: that’s where these conditioning chambers come into play.
YPG owns about 100 mobile and stationary chambers combined. These chambers are at each test site throughout YPG.
Their responsibilities include constantly monitoring the chamber’s CO2 levels used to keep them at the lower temperature. Temperatures range from -60 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The conditioning chambers team is the link between the ammunition plant and the testing sites. Their work is done to meet the needs of the test officers to make sure the ammunitions is where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
Like most processes at YPG, it’s a team made up of different sections working together to get the mission done.