U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducting debris removal at Vero Beach

Published June 14, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District is in the process of conducting debris removal operations at Vero Beach, Fla., under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites program, Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base project. Contractor crews are working offshore to search for and remove underwater objects known as horned scullies.

             Horned scullies are obstacles, made of steel beams welded together and placed in concrete, that were used by the military for the purpose of damaging landing craft. During World War II, it was expected that such beach fortifications were likely to be encountered in Europe and Japan. The Department of Defense acquired an approximately 19,000-acre site, extending about 25 miles from near Vero Beach south to Jensen Beach for amphibious training for Naval Underwater Demolition Teams. Later, the Joint Army-Navy Experimental and Testing Board was established to develop and test procedures for breaching and removing the beach fortifications. The site was returned to its original owners in 1946 when it was no longer needed for training.

             Some of the horned scully structures have previously been removed. The Corps has conducted a number of investigations and determined that some of the structures may still remain. Contractors are now searching approximately 10 miles of ocean near the shore in Indian River County and St. Lucie County, to a depth of about 10 feet. They will use underwater metal detectors attached to a boat to locate metallic objects. Divers will then visually investigate to determine what the object is. If it is a horned scully, they will have it hoisted mechanically out of the water and onto a barge for disposal. The work will not impact the beach or recreational activities, and every effort will be made to avoid protected species. It is anticipated that work will be completed by the end of 2013.

             There is the possibility that explosive materials used in the training exercises may still be attached to the horned scullies. If that occurs, trained ordnance technicians will follow appropriate protocols to remove and destroy the materials. Because of how the site was used, there is always a chance that munitions may remain in or around the area. Munitions may be dangerous and are not always easily recognizable. If you encounter potential munitions, follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize that the item you found may be munitions, and munitions are dangerous. Retreat from the area without touching or moving the object. Report the finding to local law enforcement by immediately dialing 9-1-1.

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Nancy J. Sticht

Release no. 13-036