Vulnerability of Harbours and Near-Shore Infrastructure to Underwater Explosions

  • L. Koene
  • A. J. M. Schmets
Part of the NL ARMS book series (NLARMS)


Underwater explosive devices, such as improvised explosive devices (IED), offer a high-risk threat within the maritime domain. An attack on ships in harbours, coastal infrastructure, such as locks and quays, by underwater explosives could have a detrimental effect on infrastructure functionality and national economy. Here, the physical effects of underwater explosives are reviewed and compared to surface firings. Next, a few examples in the maritime domain are treated in more detail: ships, divers and swimmers, tourist beaches, dikes, infrastructural assets and near-shore sea-bed communication. Moreover, possible detection methods and counter-strategies are discussed. A methodology for risk analysis of underwater explosion threats is outlined. Finally, conclusions and challenges for the future, focused on scientific research and preventive approaches are given.


Underwater explosions shock wave effects risk assessment protection underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV) unmanned surface vehicle (USV) drones harbours near-shore ships infrastructure 



Mr. D. Krabbenborg has been instrumental in the design and construction of experimental test set-ups, as well as for fruitful discussions on the subject matter of experimentally accessing the nature of air and underwater explosions. S.T.P. Blankestijn, C.G. Leibbrandt and K.M. Elsing, all Aspirant Officers of the Dutch Corps of Engineers, are thanked for their practical work during their lab session for the course Pyrotechniek I: they enabled the (mayonnaise) bucket experiment, under abominable field conditions. Sergeant-major M.H.M.T. Franken was the Safety Supervisor of the Explosive Experiment (in Dutch, LDSO: Leider der Springoefening) during the experiments. Lieutenant J.G.M. Albers provided the air blast pressure-time data for bare explosives in air. The underwater demolition of steel study was initiated and performed by lieutenant S.W. de Both, assisted by the Engineer Divers of the 105th Engineer Company. Finally, KLTZ E.C.L. Jolink from the Royal Dutch Navy is acknowledged for fruitful discussions on the topic of underwater explosions at large.


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Military SciencesDen HelderThe Netherlands

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