Autumn / Winter 2021

Sofia-so-good: UXO and archaeology progress

James Fisher Renewables (JF Renewables) has completed the first part of a two-phase contract to investigate unexploded ordnance (UXO) and potential archaeological features ahead of the installation of export cables for RWE’s Sofia Offshore Wind Farm, located off the north-east coast of the UK.

Sofia, which is located on Dogger Bank in the North Sea, is set to become one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms - as well as one of the farthest from shore. As demand for the construction of offshore wind farms accelerates, energy companies are being forced to look further out to sea, and to seek to clear sites previously considered unsuitable for construction. This means the JF Renewables service to provide efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sensitive UXO disposal solutions which mitigate risk is becoming increasingly important. 

During September and October 2021, the team successfully investigated 36 targets using a ROV (all were confirmed as non-UXO). 

Max Clements, subsea project manager at JF Renewables explains this initial scope of work was focussed on ‘nearshore’ targets (covering an area from the beach to 13km out at sea).

‘Nearshore work can be more challenging than working further out at sea at times because any targets close to the shore are susceptible to nearshore currents and increased wave action,’ he says.

‘Excavation can be complicated by the ability to work only at high tide, and in conditions which demand smaller more weather-sensitive vessels,’ he adds. 

Wayne Mulhall, managing director at James Fisher Renewables, adds:

‘Expertise gained from performing more than 3,000 UXO investigations around the globe enabled us to identify additional targets and to ensure phase one of the work was completed to the highest safety standard.’ 

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