Underwater Explosive Ordnance Detection and Clearance in the Danube with Domarin – Heavy Lift News
21 Jun 2024

Underwater Explosive Ordnance Detection and Clearance in the Danube with Domarin

One of the largest hydraulic engineering projects in Germany, the expansion of the Danube from Straubing to Vilshofen, requires underwater clearance of explosive ordnance in the Bogen section from April to autumn 2024. The hydraulic engineering company Domarin provides ships, pontoons, barges and excavators for the clearance of explosive ordnance. Highly specialized professional divers with probe boats carry out the underwater search for explosive ordnance.

An aerial image analysis carried out in 2020 to probe possible explosive ordnance contamination in the Danube in the Straubing-Deggendorf section confirmed that towards the end of the Second World War, explosive ordnance was disposed of in the Danube or left behind after the end of the war. For the further expansion of the Danube, the clearance of these war relics in the immediate vicinity of the railway crossing at Bogen is essential to ensure occupational safety.



The Water and Infrastructure Company (WIGES) is carrying out the expansion of the Danube on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Bavarian State Government and is therefore the client of the operation. The hydraulic engineering company Domarin from Osterhofen, in cooperation with Felbermayr, is providing the infrastructure such as ships and excavators for the Lutomsky explosive ordnance disposal service. These companies are working together over several months to clear this busy shipping route of the dangerous and environmentally harmful explosive ordnance up to a depth of 4m.​​​​​​​



The experienced hydraulic engineering experts from Domarin planned and coordinated the operation on and in the Danube in collaboration with the experts for underwater sounding. Domarin provided two ships with pontoons and barges for the recovery period.



Two excavators with operating weights of 30t to 120t with equipment operators are deployed on each of the two ships. The starting point for the explosive ordnance clearance in 2024 is large-scale detection of explosive ordnance using geomagnetic surface sounding methods and digital data recording. The data obtained provides precise information on the location of the suspected explosive ordnance. This site plan is used by both excavator operators and divers to orientate the suspected sites.


Fragments of ordnance on the ship. In the background, the divers carry out the dangerous job.


As site manager at Domarin, Bernhard Faltl is heavily involved in the operation. “Depending on the suspected explosive ordnance, either the 120t excavator is deployed and lifts the find out of the water or a diver inspects the explosive ordnance manually under water and assesses the potential danger,” says the site manager about the salvage work process.


The diver is prepared for the next dive by a colleague – a safety check follows. The shield protects the diver from the current.


The divers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service inspect the suspected objects in the Danube up to a depth of 4m below the riverbed. They have to dive behind a diving sign board several metres wide to deflect the current in the Danube’s navigation channel. Behind this shield, the diver has the appropriate underwater conditions to carry out his dangerous work. “First and foremost is the safety of the men on the floating units and underwater. In addition, we are working in an area with heavy shipping traffic, which has to be partially closed off during the salvage operation. The time pressure is correspondingly high. This makes it all the more important that the teamwork on the boat goes smothly,” adds Faltl.


Bernhard Faltl and his team worked as site managers at Domarin to secure more than 500 war relics.


Over the recovery period, more than 500 war relics and parts thereof are expected to be recovered. From ammunition to parts of explosive devices caused by explosions and detonations, but also scrap metal and rubbish. Bombs that need to be defused have also been found. If the recovered items are classified as dangerous by the experts, they are secured as quickly as possible by authorised bodies and legally handed over to the authorities, as required by law.


The impressive deployment of Domarin and Lutomsky from the bank in the section of the Danube near Straubing.


Faltl comments on the particular challenges of the operation in Straubing: “This project challenged us and our partners in many ways. The overall coordination on the boats between the equipment operators, divers and operations managers, captains and the authorities is crucial for safety on the boat and for the success of the project. The recovery of more than 500 individual parts, some of them highly dangerous, in just a few months is reflected in the perfect cooperation.”





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