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Environmentally friendly and safe recovery of ammunition from Swiss waters

On 20 December 2022, armasuisse Science and Technology in Bern held an information event on the topic «Feasibility of the environmentally friendly and safe recovery of ammunition in Swiss waters». Experts from government, industry and academia discussed the current technical options for such recovery operations and their impact on the ecosystem.

06.02.2023 | armasuisse Science and Technology, Explosives and Ammunition Surveillance

Schematic representation of a seabed full of ammunition with a so-called sediment box on top.
A possible depiction of how ammunition could be recovered using a mobile sediment box.

Thousands of tons of ammunition from previous eras still lie in Swiss waters. For this reason, regular water and sediment analyses have been carried out since 2006. As part of an examination of the current options for the environmentally friendly and safe recovery of sunk or fired ammunition in Swiss waters, armasuisse Science and Technology invited guests to an information event on 20/12/2022. Experts from the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS, EAWAG, universities and industries demonstrated and discussed possible different methods for recovering ammunition. Ammunition can be recovered, for example, using what are known as mining magnets, sieve grippers, underwater suction devices or even using «crawler» technology. The aim is to prevent the spread of sediments and the pollutants embedded in them, in order to keep the negative impact on the ecosystem in Swiss waters as low as possible. The existing hazard of explosion during the recovery of ammunition was also demonstrated to the guests. 

In the next step, new, environmentally friendly recovery methods are to be sought and tested in an extended environment. One possible solution to this would be to recover the ammunition in a mobile box in order to better retain sediments. With which resources this type of box could be equipped or whether other methods exist will be shown in the next steps.

The information exchanged between the participants at the information event is publicly accessible, is not subject to confidentiality and is recorded in minutes. If required, these minutes can be requested by an email to

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