Photo: Sonardyne

Sonardyne aims at safer UXO clearance with new wireless technology

Sonardyne has launched a wireless underwater initiation capacity with the aim of improving the safety and efficiency of unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance during offshore energy projects.

The Initiation Transponder 6 (IT 6) is designed to be connected directly to a remotely deployed, non-electric mine neutralization 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 over 1,000 meters away.

IT 6 is based on Sonardyne’s Wideband 2 digital signal technology, which offers a long-range underwater wireless communications link. The development means that technicians no longer need to wire UXO neutralizers up to signal relay buoys on the surface and are not restricted to good weather and daylight for setting up an initiation operation.

According to Sonardyne, the technology 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.

The user interface was designed in cooperation 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.

“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,” John Houlder, product manager at Sonardyne.

“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.”

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