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Kevin Williams

Senior Principal Researcher / Emeritus Executive Director

Associate Professor, Oceanography






Kevin Williams' research efforts include theoretical and experimental examination of scattering from, and propagation within, ocean sediments. He is also involved in research on the effects of ocean internal waves on acoustic imaging.

Dr. Williams has been with the Laboratory since 1988 and served as Executive Director 2020–2024. He holds a Ph.D. in physics (Washington State University) and the post of Associate Professor in the UW School of Oceanography.

Department Affiliation



B.S. Physics, Washington State University, 1979

M.S. Physics, Washington State University, 1983

Ph.D. Physics, Washington State University, 1985


APL-UW Internship Program: Applied Research Experience for NROTC Students

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6 Oct 2021

UW Naval ROTC midshipmen Joshua Lee and Brennan Hunt spent the summer quarter learning about new technology developed at APL-UW — the Multi-Sensor Towbody (MuST) — to address a real-world naval problem of detecting and classifying with sonar potentially hazardous objects on the seafloor. Advised by Principal Physicist Aubrey España, Lee and Hunt advanced step by step through the MuST mechanical components, how it is deployed in an operational scenario, how the classifier system works, and how to interpret the sonar data. Their summer internship experience was capped by a day of at-sea tests with MuST in Lake Washington, followed the next day by a formal presentation.

History of Acoustics Research at APL-UW

Six Decades of Acoustics Research at APL-UW.

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5 Oct 2015

Kevin Williams' presentation at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, May 2015.

TREX13: Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013

TREX13 is a large-scale, collaborative ocean acoustics experiment supported by both the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP).

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5 Dec 2013

The experiment will take place in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City Beach, Forida in the spring of 2013 and will involve researchers from both the United States and Canada.

The two main components of the experiment are:
1. to measure mid-frequency reverberation in a shallow water environment, and
2. to detect and classify unexploded ordnance and mine-like targets on the seafloor using synthetic aperture sonar.


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Midfrequency acoustic propagation and reverberation in a deep ice-covered Arctic ocean

Ivakin, A.N., and K.L. Williams, "Midfrequency acoustic propagation and reverberation in a deep ice-covered Arctic ocean," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 152, 1035-1044, doi:10.1121/10.0013503, 2022.

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1 Aug 2022

A model-based analysis of sound transmission in a deep ice-covered Arctic ocean recorded during the Ice Experiment 2014 is presented. A source of opportunity transmitted mid-frequency (3500 Hz) 5 s duration continuous wave pulses. The source and receiver were omnidirectional, located under ice at a ~30 m depth at a ~719 m distance from each other. Recorded acoustic intensity time series showed a clear direct blast signal followed by an about 30 s duration reverberation coda. The model considers several types of arrivals contributing to the received signal at different time intervals. The direct signal, corresponding to a short-range nearly horizontal propagation, is strongly affected by the presence of a weak near-surface (within 50 m depth) acoustic channel. Reverberation coda that follows the direct signal corresponds to medium-range bottom- and ice-bounced arrivals from steep angles which are controlled by reflectivity and scattering strengths of ice and bottom, their physical properties, and acoustical parameters.

Multi-sensor towbody: Expandable platform detects, geolocates and classifies UXO

Williams, K., T. Marston, and T. McGinnis, "Multi-sensor towbody: Expandable platform detects, geolocates and classifies UXO," Sea Technol., 62, 8-11, 2021.

1 Sep 2021

Underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) classification using a matched subspace classifier with adaptive dictionaries

Hall, J.J., M.R. Azimi-Sadjadi, S.G. Karl, Y. Zhao, and K.L. Williams, "Underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) classification using a matched subspace classifier with adaptive dictionaries," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 44, 739-752, doi:10.1109/JOE.2018.2835538, 2019.

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1 Jul 2019

This paper is concerned with the development of a system for the discrimination of military munitions and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in shallow underwater environments. Acoustic color features corresponding to calibrated target strength as a function of frequency and look angle are generated from the raw sonar returns for munition characterization. A matched subspace classifier (MSC) is designed to discriminate between different classes of detected contacts based upon the spectral content of the sonar backscatter. The system is exclusively trained using model-generated sonar data and then tested using the measured Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013 (TREX13) data sets collected from a synthetic aperture sonar system in a relatively low-clutter environment. A new in situ supervised learning method is also developed to incrementally train the MSC using a limited number of labeled samples drawn from the TREX13 data sets. The classification results of the MSC are presented using standard performance metrics, such as receiver operating characteristic curve and confusion matrices.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center