On Tuesday July 7th, UXO Control sailed out on the vessel Geoholm to the sites where we will build the offshore wind farms. Over the course of the next three to four months, UXO Control will carry out a detailed investigation of objects identified on the seabed in search of unexploded ordnance.
UXO Control will focus its investigation on several target locations that have already been identified during an earlier campaign in 2019, with the primary aim to discover which of these are unexploded bombs and mines, so they can be safely removed prior to the start of construction.
There are significant amounts of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the North Sea, dating from the First and Second World Wars. Some of the UXO come from old minefields, whereas other UXO were dropped by warplanes. While many UXO have been removed since the end of the Second World War, uncleared UXO still pose a significant threat. Identifying and safely removing these UXO is paramount to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment during construction activities.
Generally, up to five percent of identified objects are UXO. If these are found, the Royal Dutch Navy is alerted and they will then visit the site to dispose of the UXO either in place or, if necessary, at a safer location. In doing so, safety always comes first. The inspection vessel will maintain a safe distance during UXO disposal and a notice to mariners will be sent out to warn them well in advance of the disposal activities and advise them to keep a safe distance. The Royal Dutch Navy also takes measures to ensure that the UXO removal has as little impact as possible on the environment, such as the use of acoustic deterrent devices to make vulnerable marine mammals leave the area prior to the disposal.
UXO Control will investigate the Hollandse Kust Zuid 1&2 site in 2020 and a further investigation campaign will take place in 2021, focusing on the Hollandse Kust Zuid 3 & 4 site.