Avoiding the ‘Big Bang’ – The Intelligent Environmental Answer to Underwater Explosive Operations.

Avoiding the ‘Big Bang’ – The Intelligent Environmental Answer to Underwater Explosive Operations.


Seabed operations to locate, classify and safely dispose of UXO have increased significantly following the global surge in exploitation of the seabed in response to the demand for renewable energy development programmes and the associated cabling requirements.

EODEX is a new company who are collectively driven by a desire to bring unique military capabilities to the commercial arena and shape the future of specialist subsea operations. In a world where there is an increasing demand for innovative solutions, they stand at the forefront of the specialist niche market for the safe clearance of maritime UXO. EODEX methodologies provide solutions that significantly reduce any UXO disposal effect on the subsea environment.

EODEX is partnered with Alford Technologies who lead the world in providing niche low order disposal capabilities to militaries. Jointly progressing and commercialising this specialist military system, the collaboration has enabled commercial maritime UXO clearance to be achieved safely and gently.

Alford Technologies has for many years, developed and manufactured exceptional military-grade explosive tools. With a proven track record, 2 Queen’s Awards for Innovation and over 50 + patents, the company has established themselves as the gold standard in the provision of the best equipment to support the most challenging of projects.  It is through the ‘Alford Innovation Hub’ that new ideas are conceived, new equipment developed, tested, manufactured and ultimately deployed.

Using Alford shaped charge technologies, EODEX can undertake UXO clearance without inflicting a devastating impact on the marine environment for each munition cleared. Using low order deflagration techniques munitions can be neutralised without a destructive ‘big bang’ thereby safeguarding marine ecosystems, protecting people and valuable subsea assets. 

In UXO clearance operations it is widely accepted ‘High Order’ detonation of UXO causes unmitigated stress on the marine environment. The industry urgently requires a safe and cost-efficient maritime UXO disposal solution which significantly reduces any negative impact on the subsea environment.

Using specialist ‘Low Order’ deflagration methodologies, nuisance UXO can be explosively neutralised without a destructive ‘big bang’ (the explosive is burnt out rather than blown up) thereby safeguarding marine ecosystems, protecting people and valuable subsea assets. 

EODEX-Alford undertook a UK Government BEIS trial in October 19 with the National Physical Laboratory to determine the magnitude of difference between a high order detonation and a low order deflagration; the results of this trial have been remarkable and should now be able to properly inform the industry on why deflagration should be considered as the default for future maritime UXO clearance operations.

The advantages of using Low Order deflagration are significant:

  • No harmful blast noise negatively impacting on the marine environment.
  • No unwanted second-order effect on the seabed changing its state/structure for follow on construction activity.
  • No oily explosive residue pollutants and toxins in suspension in the water that follow a high order detonation.
  • Tried and tested military technology used by 17 nations for the last 15 years.
  • No metallic fragmentation over the survey area.
  • Cost-effective when compared to High Order disposal.
  • Increased safety to both people and high-value assets.

Likewise using precision explosive engineering for non-UXO tasks such as decommissioning, modern explosive methodologies can give a genuinely viable alternative that takes advantage of this extremely efficient, safe and cost-effective capability.  Alford cutting edge explosive technologies can support the most challenging decommissioning and abandonment programmes; this modern capability now sits as a genuine alternative to current ‘cold cutting’ techniques. These systems afford maximum safety and minimise any negative impact on the marine environment, and also have the ability to develop bespoke systems in-house to overcome complex problems.

These solutions are delivered by teams of experienced former Royal Navy underwater explosive specialists and together using Alfords world-leading explosive systems the EODEX teams are able to provide outstanding safe, reliable and cost-effective solutions which can be tailored to meet the most challenging subsea programmes.

Image 1: the disposal of an identical 500kg bomb in 25m of seawater

Image 2: when subjected to a bulk charge a high order detonation results.

Image 3: when subjected to the specialist low order shaped charge, deflagration results.

EODEX modern process of deflagrating a UXO, recognised as a specialist military technique, enables the explosive fill to be ‘burnt out’ and the munition to be rendered safe enabling its metal casing to be subsequently recovered as scrap.

Published: 07-03-2020

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