HYDRO 2016 Paper 6A4

Offshore unexploded ordnance recovery and disposal

Jan Koelbel, David Rose


Millions of tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and discarded explosive remnants from war can be found in European waters and beyond. Many of them are next to the shoreline, dispensing toxics to the environment. Dumping of ammunition, military practice and warfare are the main source for this large amount posing a risk for the offshore industry besides the undeniable impact this also causes to the environment. With increasing utilisation of offshore areas, the activities in offshore UXO clearance have increased. Due to the governmental commitment and planning of increased usage of offshore wind energy in Germany, research has been conducted to solve the technical question of unexploded ordnance recovery and disposal.

Within the last five years, the market for offshore UXO detection and removal has multiplied as well as experience increased, research has also lead to better analytical results during the UXO survey campaign which has helped achieve fewer false alarms. Better techniques and the development of specialist equipment for the removal results in smaller time frames in which the clearance can be done as well as lower risk for equipment and personnel. Research is also being conducted on how to handle ammunition safely which is classified as not save to transport without the normal demolition procedure.

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