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Robots To Clear the Baltic Seafloor of WW-II Mines

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the booming-business dept.

Robotics 286

An anonymous reader writes "A Russian company is building a massive natural gas pipeline that will run across the Baltic Sea floor. But first, they must clear some of the 150,000 unexploded bombs sitting at the bottom of the sea, left there by the Russian and German armies in the 1940s. About 70 of these mines, each filled with 300 kg of explosive charge, sit in the pipeline's path, mostly in its northern section just south of Finland. And so the company contracted to remove the mines is bringing in robots to do the dirty work. Here's how it will work: A research ship deploys the robot to the seabed, where it identifies the exact location of the explosive. After sounding a warning to surrounding ship traffic, scaring fish away using a small explosive, and then emitting a 'seal screamer' of high intensity noises designed to make the area around the blast quite uncomfortable for marine mammals, Bactec's engineers erupt a 5 kg blast, forcing the mine to detonate. This process ensures the safety of humans plus any animals living in the surrounding environment. The operation concludes with the robot being redeployed to clear up the scrap of the now-destroyed bomb."

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DISCRIMINATION! (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159768)

once again, The Man keeping the metalman down by only giving him the shitty jobs!!!

Re:DISCRIMINATION! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159838)

Hey, it could be worse. I envisioned the robots to be like underwater roombas. The machines would roll over to the mine, and hit it really hard with a comically shaped hammer. Bam-Splat, no more mine or robot. Very Wile E. Coyote style.

Re:DISCRIMINATION! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159906)

So you are volunteering?

Re:DISCRIMINATION! (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160578)

Nah, it's just the usual The Man keeping down...The Man.

Look at the map of current and planned gas pipelines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Major_russian_gas_pipelines_to_europe.png [wikipedia.org]

Russia just goes into some trouble of building that pipeline so that their former colonies will be reminded of few things, will drop some weird ideas they got in the last two decades.

humans (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159782)

One day robots will use humans to dispose of mines...won't be so funny then...

Re:humans (5, Funny)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159980)

I, for one welcome our new aquatic suicide bombing robot overlords.

Re:humans (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160092)

Let me fix that for you;
In Soviet Russia robots use humans to dispose mines...

oh, "mines" not "mimes" (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160448)

For a minute I read your post as this:

One day robots will use humans to dispose of mimes...won't be so funny then...

and I was going to vehemently disagree.

Save everything that can move away fast enough?.. (0, Troll)

rahst12 (1395987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159850)

So scare everything away that can move fast enough.. then detonate a 5kg bomb, which detonates a larger 300 kg bomb... What about the plants? and stuff that can't move away fast enough?

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159868)

They get blown up. That kinda tends to happen when you put bombs in the water.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (5, Funny)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159888)

There probably aren't a lot of plants that far down, but there would be lots of invertebrates. Poor invertebrates have all the bad luck. Perhaps one day they will learn the evolutionary advantage of being cute and furry.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160058)

LOLZ. [peta.org] But what's the real difference between fish and cat meat?

Only a Chinaman would know.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160096)

Or just farm out the job to PETA [peta.org] they seem to have that angle covered.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160454)

Or just farm out the job to PETA [peta.org] they seem to have that angle covered.

Come to think of it... I think everybody involved would be happier if PETA members were down there with the explosives, rather than the invertebrates...

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160522)

WTF? I just went to that page. Are they trying to save fictional animals now?

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (3, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159896)

What about the plants?

    They'll grow back.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159910)

So... what? Blow up the fish and the marine mammals, too, in the interest of fairness?

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159912)

What about the plants? and stuff that can't move away fast enough?

It's not like WWII happened yesterday. They had plenty of time to move away from the bombs. If they didn't that's their own damn fault for choosing to grow right near an old bomb! [/joke]

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159936)

Plants in Baltic sea??? Oh came on it is most polluted ocean in the World.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160016)

Get more fertile soil to grow in, more plant nutrients floating around, clear spots of ground to invade to.

I really don't see a downside for the plants, its not like they are being lit on fire. We've been using fertilizer as explosives for a long time, this really could help the plants.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160524)

We've been using fertilizer as explosives for a long time, this really could help the plants.

Sounds good in theory, and as for practice, I have never seen quite as much greenery as the explosives range at the army base in Huntsville, at least as of the early 90s. Apparently nitrates and phosphorous are good for plants, who would have guessed? Also the equivalent of soil aeration could help on the ocean floor.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (5, Funny)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160064)

But opposition to the detonation of the sea floor was fierce in some quarters, particularly from hyper-intelligent crabs and designers of algae, with crustaceans also appearing troubled by the decision. Many urged that the seafloor be moved to "underground seafloor" status instead of being wiped out of the ocean altogether. Also protesting are the people of sharks, who feel that though they thought seafloor-bombing is a racist activity, that it is ironically a form of tribute to their lasertag games. "I do believe the community may regret this decision and the loss of the excellent mud design on the rocks," said Nemo, a ridiculously cute goldfish who was passing by. "I will, however, submit to the Humans' decision."

"Although this decision is by no means unanimous, the Human feel that the seafloorlacks the necessary characteristics to take upon this task on their own," said Prostetnic Human Smith, a captain with the fleet. "Demolition will begin soon."

"As the proper paperwork has already been appropriately filed, resistance is useless!" Smith added. "This detonation had been discussed for several decades and the plans were available in a nearby continent for review and/or complaint. We regret the loss of lives, but we can't be blamed if you won't take the trouble to get out and get involved in your neighborhood"

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (4, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160256)

So long and thanks, for all the fish....

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160084)

Life isn't fair.

Seriously, what else are they going to do? If they try to reclaim the bombs and blow them up at another location, the project just got massively more complex, they are going to still damage the surrounding area when they dig it up and drag it away, the stuff that breaks if one goes off in-place just got a lot more expensive, you have the risk of someone getting hurt or killed during transport, and they've still got to blow it up somewhere. Some life forms are going to be extinguished when the bomb goes off, and no one in their right mind is going to design something to try and keep the bomb from going off. Unexploded ordinance is just nasty stuff that may or may not still be viable - the only effective way to make it safe is to let all the boom out of it.

They try to scare off all the critters they can, then they blow up the mine. It's as cheap, efficient, and about as minimally invasive as such a project could be. That's not to say it's not invasive, only that (short of transporter technology where we can beam it all into space) it's about as good as we're going to get.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160400)

Life isn't fair.

Humans have an uncanny knack of exacerbating that truism.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (4, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160166)

Plants? WTF?! This is the bottom of the Baltic Sea, south of Finland, not a shallow coral reef in the Caribbean. There's no plants down there.

There's some very beautiful parts of the ocean, places where scuba divers and snorklers like to visit to see the pretty fish, coral, and underwater plants. The Baltic Sea is not one of these places.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160724)

Just because theres nothing you enjoy seeing down there doesnt mean its bare and desolate. Even in places where there are no coral reefs, the ocean bottom is rich in uncharismatic invertebrates, the exact type that orgs like WWF and the like dont care about because theyre not fluffy, colorful or cute. Not to mention the poorly studied microbial communities that exist in such places and that some recent studies show those communities to be filled with organisms never before described.

yeah, nothing wrong with bombing the Baltic Sea... hell, why not just drop a few nukes down there and speed things up a bit?

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160216)

they get cleared out of the way of the pipeline that is coming in. win/win.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160342)

Are you suggesting that the mines not be placed where they are? Very well. I'll call a meeting with Hitler and Stalin and see if we can get this un-done.

Re:Save everything that can move away fast enough? (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160742)

Are you suggesting that the mines not be placed where they are? Very well. I'll call a meeting with Hitler and Stalin and see if we can get this un-done.

It's too late for that now, they're in big trouble. They're going to be SOOOO dead.

Robot Insurance (1)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159856)

Would you like to purchase some robot insurance for the future when they come after you for your prescription medication?

FYI robots are the leading killers among peoples aged 55 and older.

what about the corals (0)

splatter (39844) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159886)

nothing like a nice big underwater shock wave to kill all the local reef.

Re:what about the corals (4, Informative)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160018)

Coral doesn't grow in the Baltic sea, though this probably isn't a great idea for some of the stationary shellfish in nearby costal waters.

Re:what about the corals (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160204)

Coral doesn't grow in the Baltic sea, though this probably isn't a great idea for some of the stationary shellfish in nearby costal waters.

That was a far more polite answer than I could come up with.... coral in the Baltic? Other aquatic life yes.... but coral? *expletive deleted*

Re:what about the corals (3, Informative)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160348)

Don't be so quick to judge. There are such things as cold water and deep water corals. These even live in some parts of Norway.
The reason for them not living in the Baltic is that the water does not have enough salt. But in the parts close to the North Sea - the Skagerrak - several types have been found.

Re:what about the corals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160682)

What the fuck, I've been giving away my money for a decade to this 'Save the Baltic Sea Coral' foundation.

Re:what about the corals (2, Informative)

gurudyne (126096) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160036)

And just what kind of reefs grow in brackish waters that freeze over in the winter?

Certainly, there aren't any corals in the region, except for hotels.

Re:what about the corals (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160076)

The shock wave is not a problem, this [wikipedia.org] is a problem.

Re:what about the corals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160280)

In the North Sea?

Re:what about the corals (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160420)

Coral reef ends at about 40 meters or so. I don't think anywhere on the Baltic Sea floor would qualify as prime coral reef territory for a large number of reasons, but depth is the first and most immediate that comes to mind.

And let's think about this for a second. They are doing the "boom-boom" thing to eliminate the bombs to make room for a natural gas pipeline. You might as well complain that the local contractor is using a weed-whacker to clear pretty flowers before he starts leveling the ground with a bulldozer. The amount of damage caused by these bombs going off is nothing compared to what's going to happen when the pipeline goes in.

And if you skip the mine-clearing step, just wait till the first mine goes off and releases a few million gallons of natural gas into the surrounding environment.

Dirty Jobs ftw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159892)

I smell an Oscar if Dirty Jobs takes this one on.

Re:Dirty Jobs ftw (3, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160440)

"Dirty Jobs"... with Mike RoweBOT? (snare drum)

Good news! (2, Funny)

MahJongKong (883108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159898)

I hope that around 2050 we'll take care of Afghanistan, once Rwanda is done around 2035.

Great another Robot news!! (1)

kai_hiwatari (1642285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159902)

Maybe the rumors that robots have learned to submit stories to slashdot are true!!

Will the mines explore (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159904)

What makes them think the mines will explode? I mean its not like these things were engineered to last 60 years.

Re:Will the mines explore (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159920)

In which case its likely no longer a threat?

Re:Will the mines explore (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159942)

Uh.... If the mines don't explode when you blow up 5kg of TNT (or equivalent) right next to them, what exactly is the problem?

Re:Will the mines explore (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159970)

I suspect the dud rate will be pretty high. Trouble is, though, that when a single active mine could ruin your entire day, a chunk of your staff, and probably some expensive submersible hardware, you pretty much have to check.

Re:Will the mines explore (4, Informative)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159978)

5Kg of modern explosive will explode the mine even if the mine's explosives are inert. If there's no secondary explosion, the contents will be dissipated enough to make them harmless.

Re:Will the mines explore (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160478)

What makes them think the mines will explode? I mean its not like these things were engineered to last 60 years.

The main explosive of a mine is typically something shock-sensitive and not at all fragile, like TNT. The detonators (which would have some other sort of explosive) may be no good, but a good shock will still set off the main explosive.

Re:Will the mines explore (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160480)

The whole point of setting off a bomb next to a bigger bomb is to ensure that any viable explosives will go off.

Large boom = the original bomb was a danger and the danger is gone.
Small boom = the original bomb had no viable explosive left so was never a danger in the first place.

Determining which are currently dead and which are still live is tricky. The cheapest, fastest, and safest way is to just blow them all up.

What about the chemical weapons dumped? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159908)

It's nice to see they scare away fish and mammals first before detonating bombs, but how do they determine that the unexploded ordnance they blow up are not mustard gas shells [wikipedia.org] dumped there after WW2?

Re:What about the chemical weapons dumped? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160120)

If a bunch of seals wash up dead, with horrible chemical burns, then it was definitely mustard gas. Otherwise, you can deny the very idea, and blame environmentalist extremists for getting in the way of progress...

Mines that old really still dangerous? (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159914)

One would think that after sitting at the bottom of the salty ocean for 60+ years it's shell would have rusted through and the explosives saturated with water. if those mines are really still good then they are remarkably well engineered

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159998)

It only takes 1 out of 70 (98.5% failure rate) to kill a bunch of people.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160010)

Maybe, but why take the chance? If the mines haven't leaked, the explosives inside may be very unstable.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (5, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160488)

...why take the chance?

Or more explicitly, would *you* personally (the original poster) take the chance?
It is easier to wave away risk when someone else is taking it.

I was present when a plumber was fixing a small, on demand water heater wired directly to the mains so you could not unplug it. (probably a building code violation) I switched off power to the bathroom at the breaker box and told him it was off. The plumber asked: "Are you sure it's off?", I said yes, he said "Then you wont have a problem touching those terminals yourself."

At that point I grabbed my meter and verified it was off and then shorted the terminals with a screw driver to be doubly sure.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160022)

We still discover Shipwrecks and sunken cruisers from earlier eras in the same intact position as they sunk - I have no reason to doubt a mine could last that long. You need Oxygen to rust, and while there is obviously a lot of it inside an H20 ocean, it doesn't have the C02 that usually helps pump out fast oxidizing.

Your car sitting outside with the wind and the rain and polution will rust much faster than a ship at the bottom of the ocean.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160086)

One would think that after sitting at the bottom of the salty ocean for 60+ years it's shell would have rusted through and the explosives saturated with water. if those mines are really still good then they are remarkably well engineered

Maybe they are German mines. :P

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (4, Informative)

gurudyne (126096) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160270)

Probably not saturated. You may be thinking of gunpowder. People are still getting killed with WW I buried mines and shells.

Quoting Wikipedia: "TNT neither absorbs nor dissolves in water, which allows it to be used effectively in wet environments."

Let's say that only one out of twenty still work. Do you feel lucky? Exciting times.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160272)

Depends on the design and the filling. A thin steel shell would, indeed, probably have rusted, unless that particular patch of ocean is especially oxygen poor. With the right naval paint and a bit of luck, though, survival would certainly be possible.

Also, it is quite possible that the explosive agent in a fair few of these mines is Amatol. Because that stuff was hygroscopic, it was often given some sort of waterproof coating even if it was intended for land use, just so that it wouldn't go dud in storage. A basic coating of Bitumen could stand against seawater for quite a while, preserving the lump of possibly touchy explosive material even if the mine casing has been breached. Some of the period contact detonators, constructed largely of glass and lead, might also surive surprisingly well...

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160334)

One would think that after sitting at the bottom of the salty ocean for 60+ years it's shell would have rusted through and the explosives saturated with water.

IIRC, bombs and mines are often filled with a molten explosive such as TNT, which is then allowed to cool into a solid mass. It's not a given that simply exposing such a monolithic explosive to water would render it harmless.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (4, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160346)

They certainly are.

Here in the UK we often have a problem of unexploded ordinance and I would imagine countries like France, Germany et al. do also. Unexploded bombs in land or mines at sea dating back to World War II are usually found a few times a year here in the UK and are generally detonated because they are not safe to simply move, although some are safe enough to just move.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (1)

rahst12 (1395987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160376)

They sure don't make things like they used too.

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (4, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160634)

The Vasa [wikipedia.org] warship was preserved in the brackish waters a little way from Stockholm for over three hundred years. How long something lasts at the bottom of the sea depends on the composition of the water (oxygen, salt, etc) and other factors.

(If you visit Stockholm make sure you see the ship, it's amazing.)

Re:Mines that old really still dangerous? (4, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160642)

I'm no munitions expert, but if I were to design a mine that was going to go into saltwater I might also select a material that is somewhat resistant to saltwater. PVC, polystyrene, bakelite, teflon, and polyurethane come to mind, and all were around before WWII. Heck, even stainless steel was around, albeit probably too expensive for the Russian military at the time. I wouldn't necessarily expect it to last 60 years, but if I designed it to be even minimally saltwater-resistant it's not outside the realm of possibility that one might survive that long. The odds are against it, but it's not impossible.

So you go with the odds, and relative levels of damage involved. This is prepwork for a very expensive natural gas pipeline, and I doubt it really accounts for a significant portion of the overall expense.

If no bombs are viable, then the project has spent some money unnecessarily and set off a series of 5kg (~11-pound) explosives and not done any real harm to the surrounding environment except for a bunch of little areas that are about to get a LNG pipeline plumbed through anyway.

If just one of those bombs is live and goes off when natural gas is flowing through the LNG pipeline they want to build, that could be very devastating over a very large area.

Job Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31159918)

with all that warning going on, how long does the process take, like 5 min

* 150,000 * the time to find each one

Re:Job Security (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160004)

It sounds like they already know where they are - or at least the ones that are in the path of the construction.

Who would oppose this? (3, Insightful)

Zebai (979227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160000)

I can't believe they have opposition from ENVIRONMENTALISTS! Of all people, they should be the first to encourage the removal of mines. Frankly I would like to see all 150,000 removed, we have enough mines in our world we don't need them in the ocean as well.

Any pollution from the remains of these mines would only be temporary, the sea claims all things in the end and it will eventually filter out/destroy toxins on its own once its in flow is stopped. If its already heavily polluted they should focus their efforts on whatever is causing it before this.

Re:Who would oppose this? (4, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160150)

Never underestimate the idiocy of a subset of the human population. There are plenty of sane, rational environmentalists out there, but then there's PETA. An animatronic groundhog? Protesting the Westminster dog show? Those animals have better lives than I do, and mine is pretty good.

There will always be someone, somewhere, ready to protest anything.

Re:Who would oppose this? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160176)

What don't environmentalists oppose?

I think the only thing they can all agree on is More Funding!!

There are the environmentalists that oppose everything and give no answers as to what we should do, those ones suck.

Then there are the environmentalists that look at a problem and see a solution, these aren't environmentalists, they're engineers.

Re:Who would oppose this? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160236)

To be fair, the process could be a lot cleaner if they simply raised the mines off the seafloor and transported them somewhere safe for detonation, or even better, disassembly and recycling.

Since this would obviously be a very dangerous job for any workers involved, let's get the environmentalists complaining about this to volunteer to do the job.

Neat (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160030)

The interesting part is that the de-mining process starts with the assumption that all of these mines will still detonate. Wonder what kind of explosive is that reliable.

Hopefully, the actual fusing and ship detecting 'sensors' on the mine (not sure what else to call the big mechanical and magnetic switches mines of this vintage use) no longer work.

Re:Neat (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160114)

Those commies should have just made their mines biodegradable!

Re:Neat (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160218)

Wonder what kind of explosive is that reliable.

They're German mines. Of course they'll still work! ;)

But in seriousness, if they don't detonate after having 5 kilos of high explosive blow up on top of them, they're probably not going to detonate ever, and thus aren't a problem.

Re:Neat (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160308)

The interesting part is that the de-mining process starts with the assumption that all of these mines will still detonate.

Explosives Disposal 101: Always assume an explosive device is functional, armed, and active.

And if that assumption is wrong, the mine will still be destroyed, so no biggie.

Re:Neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160664)

Once in a while one of these mines are caught by a fishing vessel, and there has been at least one accident. But that was in 1969. (There might have been more, but my google-fu is limited)

Robots and explosives, what could go wrong? (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160104)

Of course I expect it is not actually robots but rather remote controlled vehicles.

While the article does not state it the graphics clearly shows ROV. Remote Operated Vehicle.

No robots here. Please move on.

Gotta wonder... (1)

bit9 (1702770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160138)

How many "missing" nukes lay on the bottom of the world's oceans? Just counting the ones we know about [wikipedia.org] , there are at least a few [aerospaceweb.org] , and you can bet that there are at least a few more we don't know about.

Re:Gotta wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160358)

Uranium is present in seawater at 3.3 parts per billion, and experimental extraction methods exist which would run $250-$350/kg. (Current uranium prices are around $95/kg on the spot market.)

Re:Gotta wonder... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160390)

We (the US) has a really good idea of how many nukes they've lost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accidents [wikipedia.org]

Airplanes that were lost they recovered, and because they didn't want the Soviets getting them, they put alot of effort into getting lost devices.

March 10, 1956 – Over the Mediterranean Sea – nuclear weapons lost - 2 lost
July 28, 1957 – Atlantic Ocean – Two weapons jettisoned and not recovered - 2 lost
February 5, 1958 – Savannah, Georgia, USA – Nuclear bomb lost - 1 lost
January 24, 1961 – Goldsboro B-52 crash – Physical destruction of a nuclear bomb, loss of nuclear materials - 1 lost
December 5, 1965 – coast of Japan – Loss of a nuclear bomb - 1 lost
January 21, 1968 – 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash, Greenland – Loss and partial recovery of nuclear bombs - 1 lost
May 22, 1968 – 740 km (400 nmi) southwest of the Azores – Loss of nuclear reactor and two W34 nuclear warheads - The USS Scorpion (SSN-589) - 2 lost

Those would be - Pinnacle - Broken Arrow or Pinnacle - Emergency Disablement events

Where do I submit my CV? (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160174)

Badass.

Re:Where do I submit my CV? (4, Funny)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160462)

Eh, it's not as cool as you might think. I've found a screenshot [wordpress.com] of their software interface, looks pretty boring.

The real process... (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160214)

  1. Remote vehicle finds mine(s)
  2. Remote vehicle initiates measures to sacre off most sea creatures
  3. Modest explosive charge is used to detonate mine
  4. Local fisherman patrol the area, scooping up tons of stunned fish
  5. Local fish markets thrive (for about a week)!

Shortsighted or failure to complete the job? (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160274)

Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20, but I have to wonder, were these mines the product of shortsighted people who were focused too intently on their present-day worries, or were they a necessity that just didn't get cleaned up like a respondible entity should do?

Wars come and go, but humanity continues on (for now). Was mining the sea a shortsighted endeavor that ultimately caused more harm than what was being prevented (invasion)? Or was the outcome of the war so pivotal to the course of human existance that mining the sea was a necessity, but those responsible simply failed to clean up their mess?

Re:Shortsighted or failure to complete the job? (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160318)

At least it sounds like the mines were decently documented.

Mines are cheap and effective. (4, Insightful)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160568)

>Was mining the sea a shortsighted endeavor that ultimately caused more harm than what was being prevented (invasion)?

Mines were, and continue to be, cheap and effective area denial weapons.

When used at sea, they ensnare the unwary, and, once the position of the minefield becomes known to your enemy, diverts enemy traffic into places more convenient for you.

This has been sufficient justification for their use for about a hundred years or so.

landmines (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160276)

If only it was so profitable to remove landmines and stop them from performing their gruesome task.

Re:landmines (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160442)

It's *very* profitable... for non profits. (Non Profits have to pay people salaries too... from their 12-14% "administrative overhead")...They just haven't been pushing their marketing as hard as they could lately.

Re:landmines (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160562)

It's *very* profitable... for non profits.

and the Prosthetics industry.

gas leak (1)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160310)

Won't be so nice for the environment when the new gas line springs a leak.

Origin of Mines? (4, Interesting)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160328)

Are these mines that were intended to damage surface ships that sunk after time, or were they intended to get subs? Skimmed the article but didn't see that detail. Seems they're a bit too deep to be intended for surface ships, yeah?

Re:Origin of Mines? (2, Informative)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160586)

Subs for sure. If they were still on the surface, they would have been cleared by now. Submarine mines were typically anchored deep in the water.

150,000 mines (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160398)

There's more than 150,000 mines, and they're only going to clean up 70 of them? What's the big deal? That's less than .05%! Think of the children of the puffer fish!

Re:150,000 mines (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160632)

When those puffer fish front up the money to clean up their own damn mines. That's when.

I've found my new career! (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160410)

I was undecided on whether to go into robotics or demolitions. Now I don't have to choose!

Reminds me of a 'suicide mission' sketch on Cher (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160428)

Yes, she had a variety show back then. One of the skits involved a WWII suicide mission, held in a tent, complete with a map they can point to from time to time. So the commander is brought in, they all stand at attention yadda yadda and when he starts the briefing he is half mumbling his words but the only words you could ever understand where the words suicide, death, and die. WHen he called in Cher to demonstrate gas masks (of all things) Cher also mumbles which even gets worse when she puts the gas mask on and continues talking! Her voice is muffled and when she removes it the words Instant death were very clear. The soldiers look at each other, confused. Funny as hell.

Sooo, paying for WWII cleanup...Who gets the bill? (1, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160556)

Interesting how we're still expending money and effort to clean up previous wars. Due to the global nature of this particular war, really makes me wonder who should be footing the bill for cleanup like this, especially in "international" waterways.

It can't go wron because... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31160606)

What *possible* hazard can there be from a mere 150000 x (average weight of a 'bomb') kilos worth of pulverized, incompletely incinerated, remains of tnt / cordite / phosphorus + all the heavy metals that Victorian thru Cold-War tech was ever so fond of ?

Damm flashbacks! I dont care about the Vorga, I mean, Volga and the Aral Sea (Caspian, Baltic). It's a completely different era. Completely new people. Different people. Different ideas! They'd *never* compromise ecology for industrial expedience and socio-economic convenience! We know what happens when someone is allowed to do that. Impossible! Again, I say!

It must be me.

On the other hand, he surviving bears are going to really feast on all those deaf seals. And it's going to get tricky - swimming while holding old-fashioned hearing aid seashells.

But the exploding seaweed, or seafood (within a few years time), is going to be quire a blast.

And the effects of mixing explosive remains + pcb + ddt in warm, living whale, seal, or bear fat ought to be really interesting. So, in a few years time : "Beware of pissing bears!", then.

And thanks for all the....

There was a movie with this in it.... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31160610)

Oh yeah..

http://www.youtube.com/watch#playnext=1&playnext_from=TL&videos=M-N_ec6ftJY&v=AR2BkmFEPSM At approximately 2:30 into it.. Sea Mines!

Irwin Allen only made disaster films and this scheme sounds like one too.

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