Unexplored Opportunities:

Unexplored Opportunities:

Multi-Sector Strategies for Collaboration in Underwater Unexploded Ordnance Remediation


This article is brought to you by the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) from issue 25.2 of The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction available on the JMU Scholarly Commons and Issuu.com.

By Chris Price [ Oklahoma State University ]

Few global challenges are as ripe for multi-sector collaboration as underwater (UW) unexploded ordnance (UXO) remediation. Millions of metric tons of UXO are lying on and under the seabed corroding, decaying, and seeping toxic chemicals into the ecosystem—ultimately ending up in our food. Because most underwater UXO are from WWI and WWII, and given the corrosion rates of most metals from which ordnance is made, the inevitable problems with ordnance dumped, sunk, and fired into bodies of water (mostly in coastal regions) are catching up with us. The urgency is exacerbated by biochemical changes in oceans due to climate change that increase rates of corrosion and other processes. Meanwhile, maritime technologies in several sectors have reduced the barrier of entry even for small companies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to partner with militaries, corporations, and nations, large and small. With combined resources, expertise, and knowledge, these partnerships can remediate the ecological, economic, explosive, and human health hazards caused by underwater UXO. While some technological gaps exist in detection, disposal, and removal operations, the most significant barriers are political and economic. Nevertheless, multi-sector collaboration combined with innovation from maritime and explosives experts offers some unexplored opportunities to increase health, wealth, and safety for all. 

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Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2022

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