2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Underwater Survey and Clearance of Explosive Ordnance
Conflicts, wars, and careless post-war disposal by militaries and local populations over the last century have left our global waters littered with explosive ordnance (EO). Environmental factors such as rains and floods have also contributed to the problem by washing EO into rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. To assist in addressing these problems, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) drafted International Mine Action Standard 09.60 (IMAS 09.60) – Underwater Survey and Clearance of Explosive Ordnance.
GICHD published IMAS 09.60 in December 2014, thereby establishing basic principles and requirements for underwater survey and clearance of EO. The IMAS assists authorities in the creation of national policy and standards along with providing basic guidance to underwater survey and clearance organizations in the development of standard operating procedures. This standard institutes proactive approaches to mitigate the risks of underwater EO and its associated socioeconomic and environmental impact.
Until recently, national militaries have maintained almost exclusive expertise in clearing underwater EO. However, different types of organizations, such as nongonvernmental organizations and a wider range of commercial companies, now are clearing these hazards. While IMAS 09.60 provides foundational guidance for these activities, additional work is required to institute safe, effective, and cost-efficient approaches. The GICHD has ongoing projects to draft a best-practices guide, conduct underwater equipment trials, and add underwater systems to the existing GICHD online equipment catalog. These efforts will further assist nations, donors, and operators improve activities associated with underwater survey and clearance of EO.
Justin O. Smith
Consultant, Underwater EOD Operations
Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD)
P.O. Box 1300
1211 Geneva 1
telephone: +1 951-386-6095