Sabrex is a cut above

12 December 2018

The capability of an explosive cutting tool has been dramatically demonstrated during the sinking of a Portuguese naval warship to create an artificial reef.

The corvette Afonso Cerqueira, which was retired from service in 2015, was sunk 450 m (just over a quarter of a mile) off the coast of Madeira.

Sabrex web

The warship sank in under two minutes

Sabrex, an explosive cutting charge, was used to cut 16 holes – each measuring 1 sq m (10.7 sq ft) – out of the ship’s hull under the waterline. The ship sank in less than two minutes.

“We needed to rapidly and very precisely cut holes big enough to allow in the water, but without weakening or damaging any of the superstructure,” said Chris Smith of Chemring Energetics UK (CEUK) which manufactures Sabrex.

“The idea is for the ship to remain intact and upright to help improve biodiversity and develop underwater tourism.”

The company worked closely with the regional government of Madeira, the Portuguese Navy and contractors Tecnovia Madeira on the project.

The manufacturer said Sabrex can be used in depths of 12 m (39 ft) with no adverse effect on its performance and has been used to sever 25 mm (1 in) of steel plate at a depth of 25 m (82 ft). It is supplied in lengths of 4 m (13 ft) in six different sizes.

The specialist explosive used on the Afonso Cerqueira, which will become a haven for marine wildlife as well as a destination for diving enthusiasts, was put in place by a team of Portuguese Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal divers. They first used Sabrex two years ago when another corvette – the General Pereira d’Eça – was sunk to form another artificial reef.


Latest News
What do you want from a modern excavator?
Projects are growing in complexity demanding more efficient and dynamic solutions but what do users need from their equipment to meet these goals?
Fuel cell specialist AFC raises funds for rental JV
AFC Energy will invest in its rental JV with Speedy Hire
PartnerLift trio in Ahern equipment deal
Three rental companies receive lifts at Ahern Germany