The danger posed to the environment and people by ammunition waste in the Baltic Sea has been known for many years. Politicians, associations and environmental organisations have long been engaged in intensive discussions to find suitable solutions. It is estimated that around 1.6 million tonnes of conventional and 220,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents lie on the seabed off the German North Sea and Baltic coasts.

German Naval Yards and Rheinmetall Project Solutions are engaged in a groundbreaking project to find a sustainable, innovative and environmentally friendly solution for removing these legacies of war.

As early as the first half of 2024, the newly developed platform will be able to dispose of conventional ordnance such as torpedo heads, mines and artillery shells in an environmentally friendly manner as a pilot installation at the Kolberger Heide disposal site at the entrance to the Kiel Fjord. On the basis of the knowledge gained, further platforms will then be developed. These will be adapted to specific operational scenarios and will also be able to dispose of chemical munitions.

German Naval Yards and Rheinmetall Project Solutions have already been in close contact with experts and explosive ordnance disposal services since the end of 2020 in order to identify and design safety requirements before and during the handling of ammunition at sea. In some cases, preliminary contracts have already been signed with several leading suppliers of the necessary systems for the entire process chain, so that the ever-increasing risk to man and the environment can be countered as quickly as possible after the contract has been awarded.

However, the complexity of handling ammunition at sea must not be underestimated if the risk to life and limb is to be minimised. With Rheinmetall, the GGerman Naval Yards have found an experienced and efficient partner with by far the most extensive experience in handling ammunition in Germany. Safety has to come first. The German Naval Yards have a unique infrastructure with the space, facilities and skilled personnel to build a suitable platform and integrate the necessary systems. In addition, the Kiel shipyard will have the space to act as a logistics control centre to monitor and support all stages of the process.

“We are confident that, together with our strong strategic partner Rheinmetall Project Solutions GmbH, we will be able to meet the requirements, particularly in terms of safety, and achieve the ambitious goal of safely and efficiently removing old ammunition from German waters,” said Rino Brugge, CEO of German Naval Yards . The shipyard CEO adds: “1.6 million tonnes of old ammunition in German territorial waters alone do not allow any further delays in this mammoth task. Anyone who understands this will also understand that only an industrial approach can be the right way to solve this ever-growing problem in harmony with the protection of the environmental “.

The developed concept includes all necessary process steps from detection and identification to recovery and disposal. A further advantage of this approach is the use and interfacing of certified and proven equipment and systems already in use, which largely eliminates the need for time-consuming and costly development of corresponding components. The modularity and scalability of the platform makes it easy to adapt to other conditions (e.g. type of ammunition, condition of ammunition, quantity to be destroyed).

Source: German Naval Yards