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Corrosion of steel and other wreckage in the Belgian North Sea
De Baere, K.; Van Haelst, S.; Luyckx, D.; De Baere, S.; Boon, N.; van Halbeek, S.; Meskens, R.; Willemen, R.; Melchers, R. (2019). Corrosion of steel and other wreckage in the Belgian North Sea, in: Corrosion and Prevention Conference 2019, Melbourne, Australia, 24 - 27 November, 2019.
In: (2019). Corrosion and Prevention Conference 2019, Melbourne, Australia, 24 - 27 November, 2019. Australian Corrosion Association: Victoria. , more

Available in  Authors 
Document type: Conference paper

Author keywords
    Rate of corrosion, long term model, conservation of shipwrecks, MIC

Authors  Top 
  • Meskens, R., more
  • Willemen, R., more
  • Melchers, R.

    The near-coastal strip of the North Sea off Belgium has some three hundred shipwrecks mostly of steel construction, dating from both World Wars. Because many contain the remains of their crews and others, they are protected by Belgian law. Besides their cultural and historical value, these wrecks have a biological, environmental and economic importance. Preservation of the wrecks is an on-going issue. To-date, the rate of deterioration of the wrecks has been determined by comparing measured in-situ steel plate thickness with archived information about the ships’ construction. The most applicable and general corrosion models are being used as a benchmark. The Melchers’ corrosion model compared with the in-situ measurements showed a discrepancy that currently cannot be explained. This is important because the actual and likely future wreckage corrosion rate is required to refine our current view on the defining parameters for long term steel corrosion in stationary structures in the North Sea and also important for deciding how to preserve these wrecks for future generations. When validated against the in situ observed deterioration of the steel wrecks, it will be used in a project related to dumped chemical ammunition in the North Sea. At the end of World War I, Belgium was confronted with a huge amount of left-over chemical warfare, mainly of German origin. A cheap and fast solution was found in 1919 by dumping approximately 35,000 tons (most probably an underestimation) of gas shells, containing various toxic products such as yperite (mustard gas), as well as some conventional ammunition, on the Paardenmarkt, a silt bank east of the port of Zeebrugge, about 1000 meters from the shore. The material was forgotten until in 1971 when the harbour facilities of Zeebrugge were extended and several shells were brought to the surface. Their condition, after more than 100 years of immersion, is an important parameter for assessing the risks to the health and security of the local population. As direct observation is forbidden by the authorities, it was anticipated that the parametrized and tuned Melchers corrosion model would provide the best possible strategy to do so. The paper outlines the overall scope of both aspects of the project and describes the proposed approach for the corrosion studies.

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