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Underwater sensor network deployment can be quite difficult and expensive, thus much of the early development is limited to simulation work. There are some underwater physical channel models available in various simulation tools, but they are often overly generalized and rely on assumptions about the ocean as a whole. They are not appropriate for practical applications, as the ocean is such a diverse environment. In this paper, we present the development of an improved channel model based on the BELLHOP beam tracing program. The most significant advantage is that it allows the generation of a customized model built for a specific location. Furthermore, we conduct case studies using real environment data from Newfoundland in the Atlantic Region to demonstrate the differences between the proposed model and commonly used NS-2 models, which are of practical significance in real underwater sensor applications. Our results have shown promising applications of this new model for future underwater communications.