A marine technology company is aiming to improve the safety and efficiency of unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance during offshore energy projects with the introduction of a secure, wireless underwater initiation capability.
Sonardyne’s new Initiation Transponder 6 (IT 6) is designed to be connected directly to a remotely deployed, non-electric mine neutralisation device, such as a Viper MDS from ECS Special Projects. This allows explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams to send a wireless, acoustic command from their vessel, safely initiating a shock tube detonator. Recent demonstrations were conducted over distances in excess of 1000m away.
IT 6 is based on Sonardyne’s field-proven Wideband 2 digital signal technology, which offers a reliable and long-range underwater wireless communications link. The development of IT 6 means that technicians no longer need to wire UXO neutralisers up to signal relay buoys on the surface and are not restricted to good weather and daylight for setting up an initiation operation.
IT 6 is small, lightweight and designed to be placed by an ROV or diver for both high order detonation and low order deflagration. It features multiple layers of security to prevent unintended activation, including a hydrostatic switch, which only allows the unit to be armed when a pre-determined depth has been reached.
Operations using IT 6s are controlled using Sonardyne’s new rugged Deck Topside case and cabled dunker. Environmentally rated to IP67, the case features a daylight readable interactive 7-inch resistive touch screen and rechargeable battery, for when operating on small boats with no external power.
The user interface was designed in close co-operation with EOD technicians and enables operating parameters to be set and multiple IT 6s to be configured prior to deployment. During a live operation, two physical buttons provide an additional layer of security, requiring users to hold one button to arm, then simultaneously press the other to initiate.
The dunker, which is supplied with 10m of cable, provides a secure two-way communications link between the surface and IT 6, and is simply lowered over the side of a vessel.
John Houlder, Product Manager at Sonardyne said; “European waters are littered with unexploded ordnance (UXO), the result of past military conflicts, training exercises, weapons development and dumping activities at sea. During the construction phases of wind farms, for example, the risk to personnel, assets and project timescales are significant.”
“When disposal rather than avoidance is deemed necessary for turbine or cable route placement, our new IT 6 and topside will help those involved with the hazardous task operate entirely wirelessly and in any weather, day or night. Underwater acoustic command and control is a core Sonardyne capability, so IT 6 can be considered as reliable and as secure as traditional methods involving shock tubes and a lot safer than electrical detonation lines.”