Mobilization of Unexploded Ordnance on the Seabed

Toxics. 2022 Jul 13;10(7):389. doi: 10.3390/toxics10070389.


Unexploded ordnance devices (UXO) pose a potential threat to human life and material during offshore construction activities. Extensive survey activities are conducted to locate, identify, and clear these objects as necessary. For the period thereafter, it is necessary to investigate whether areas that have already been cleared, or even objects that remain in place, may be affected by mobilization under tidal currents or waves, and could thus have an impact on operation and maintenance during the lifetime of the offshore installation. In this study, model simulations based on fluid mechanics are described to derive the loads on the objects caused by currents and waves and combined with knowledge of the known burial condition of the objects. Within the model, the hydrodynamic and hydrostatic loads on the object caused by waves and currents are balanced with inertia and rolling resistance. Thus, the critical current velocity and critical wave conditions for the mobilization of different objects are calculated and compared with the environmental conditions prevailing in the North Sea. As a result, a recurrence interval for the potential mobilization of objects on the seafloor is given, which can now be used to optimize route surveys and thus help accelerate offshore construction work. It is shown that currents are not able to mobilize the objects investigated in the study in almost all regions of the North Sea. Waves can mobilize certain objects in very shallow and extreme conditions.

Keywords: Morrison equation; UXO; burial; hydrodynamics; mobilization; sediment transport.

Grants and funding

This project was supported by TenneT TSO GmbH, Vattenfall Vindkraft A/S, and the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Schiffe und Marinewaffen, Marinetechnik und Forschung (WTD 71) in Eckernförde. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support.