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RPS Energy Ltd

Explosives Engineering

UXO Below:
Mitigating Marine UXO Risk

Presented by
Victoria Phillips


To deliver an overview of Unexploded Ordnance

(UXO) in the marine environment, the Risks posed
during Engineering works, and to consider appropriate
strategies for mitigations

What is Unexploded Ordnance?

United Nations Definition

Unexploded Ordnance
(UXO) are explosive
munitions, which have not yet
been set off. UXO may
already have been fired,
dropped, or launched, but it
has failed to detonate as
Other Definitions
AXO: Abandoned Explosive Ordnance. Explosive ordnance
that has not been used during an armed conflict, that has been
left behind or dumped by a party to an armed conflict, and which
is no longer under control of the party that left it behind or
dumped it. Abandoned explosive ordnance may or may not have
been primed, fuzed armed or otherwise prepared for use.

ERW: Explosive Remnants of War. Unexploded Ordnance

(UXO) and Abandoned Explosive Ordnance (AXO).

MEC: Munitions & Explosives of Concern

From: IMAS 04.10 Glossary of mine action terms, definitions and abbreviations.
Contamination Sources
Numerous historical activities across the world have left a
legacy of UXO contamination:

- Conflict / Battle Areas

- Weapons Testing /Training
- Bombing & Firing Ranges
- Aircraft Wrecks
- Ship Wrecks
- Coastal Batteries
- Sea Dumped Munitions & Scuttled Vessels

Conflict WWII North Sea

Conflict WWII North Sea

Artillery & Bombing Ranges - UK

Aircraft Wrecks South Pacific

Ship Wrecks
-Thames Estuary
The Richard Montgomery
- Loaded with 7000 tons of explosives
- If the munitions detonated the consequences
could be catastrophic

Dumped Munitions

- Army secret ocean-dumping

program - from 1944 to 1970

- Nerve and mustard gas agent,

Chemical filled bombs, landmines,
rockets, Radioactive waste

- Operation CHASE (Cut Holes &

Sink Em)

- Army cannot say exactly where all

weapons were dumped from
WWII to 1970

- During WWI munitions were not

to be brought into the harbour
and were dumped prior to entry

Ordnance Variants
- Air Delivered Bombs -Sea Mines
- Land Service Ammunition -Torpedoes
- Projectiles -Depth Charges
- Small Arms Ammunition -Chemical Warfare Material
- Land Mines -
- Rockets / Missiles

Air Delivered Bombs
Left: High Explosive Bombs
Below Left: 1000lb HE Bomb
Below Right: 8.5lb Practice

Land Service Ammunition

Above: Hand Grenades

Top Left: Bazooka
Bottom Left: 3 Mortar

- Used in the Persian Gulf
155mm French

155mm USSR
WWI White Phos


Above: British Mk2 AT Mine

Right: VS 69 Bounding Mine

Naval Weapons

Depth Charges
Torpedoes Naval Artillery Ammo

Limpet Mines German Ground Mine WWII Buoyant Mine

Chemical Warfare Material (CWM)

Above: US Munitions dumping program

Top Middle: UK chemical weapons dumping
Bottom Right: US disposal ship
Top Right : Liven Projector WWI

UXO Risks - Initiation

HE ordnance does not generally spontaneously explode. Unfuzed HE requires

significant energy to induce initiation.
Potential initiation depends on ordnance fuzing and investigation activity. Examples
Drill / piling impact on bomb fuze pocket, which has build up of picric acid crystals
Cutter dredger strikes percussion fuze on a mortar
Seabed Plough strikes a sensitive munition

Underwater Explosions
Water can have a suppressive effect on
explosive events

Therefore the safety/danger distances

will be significantly reduced in the event
of an underwater detonation, dependant
on the depth of water.

This affords some protection to

personnel and equipment.

This protection is lost once items of

ordnance are brought to the surface.
Explosion Underwater Effects
Differ to explosions in air because:

Water is a different consistency and

produces extremely effective tamping
or cushioning effect

To achieve Target Damage at a

distance larger charge weights are
used in most underwater weapons.


used in mines to advantage.
Torpedo Testing

Torpedo wearhead - 1200 LB TNT. The warhead detonates below the keel, as opposed to striking it directly.
The resulting pressure wave of the explosion "lifts" the ship and can break its keel in the process.
As the ship "settles" it is then hit again as the explosion itself rips through the area of the blast.
UXO Assessment & Mitigation

Desk Based Risk Assessment

Risk Mitigation Strategy
Sign off

Desk Based Assessment
- If possible should be undertaken at - Understanding of Site works
the planning Stage - Methods of installation
- Site scope - Identify Hazard Levels
- Intertidal &/or Offshore - Identify Appropriate Mitigation
- Water Depths & Seabed Type/ Mobility
- Site History
- Ordnance Records
- Detailed Historical Search
- Hydrographical Mapping
- Accessing Archived Data
- Identify Dumping locations
- Weapon Characteristics (NEQ, Fuzing )

Mitigation Strategy
Proactive Measures: Reactive Measures:
- Avoidance - Safety Briefings
- Detection (survey) - UXO Supervision &
- Investigation Management Plans

- Disposal - Screening

Detection - Geophysical Survey
Sub Bottom Profile Magnetometry / EM Side Scan Sonar 27
Geophysical Techniques
- Survey Considerations

Ordnance variations:
- ferrous / non-ferrous
- size / weight / shape
Burial/Penetration depths: Water depths
- is the ordnance on the sea bed or Detection capability:
- Fish/Array Height
Sea bed composition
- Line spacing
Sediment mobility
Positional accuracy
Anomaly Investigation

Divers Hand Held Detectors,Air Lifts & Tactile Search

ROVs TSS / SmartSearch, Dredge Pumps / Sonar 29
Towing the mine/UXO

Diver attaching
lifting bag
Towing the mine/UXO

Thank you for attending
Any Questions?