Sulmara recently completed a successful unexploded ordnance (UXO) and multibeam survey (MBES) of Ardersier Port, Scotland for Haventus Limited. To help service future Scotwind requirements’ the port is currently undertaking a significant regeneration project, with construction and dredging underway. The survey simultaneously aimed to identify potential UXOs targets whilst collecting detailed bathymetry of this dynamic environment in water varying from 1-10m deep.
The survey was executed using an advanced uncrewed surface vessel (USV), WAMV-16, equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The USV was outfitted with a high-resolution NORBIT Subsea MBES system to acquire detailed bathymetric data, ensuring safe towing operations, and generating accurate seafloor mapping and charting. The Norbit MBES system had a wide coverage angle, enabling efficient data acquisition in the shallow water environment.
The USV surveyed the challenging waters of Ardersier Port, with 4m line spacing for optimum coverage (approximately 450,000sqm), employing precise waypoint navigation to ensure complete coverage of the survey area. Throughout the survey, the UXO detection systems continuously measured and recorded magnetic field variations. These measurements were co-recorded with the multibeam, facilitating the correlation of potential UXO signatures with corresponding seafloor features, with data monitored remotely in near real-time at our US office.
By utilizing an uncrewed asset, the field operational team were able to navigate a towed body through a challenging environment. The WAMV-16 USV allowed the field ops team a better vantage to assess hazards with a more manoeuvrable vehicle than if a traditional vessel was used. Further to the navigational safety gains, the electronically and acoustically quiet nature, and the stable platform that the USV provides yields a much higher quality of data product than a crewed vessel. The WAMV-16 USV is considered a low carbon solution generating zero CO2 emissions
UXO survey in shallow waters is notoriously difficult and it was the WAMV’s size and operability that allowed the team to pre-empt and respond quickly to obstacles.