Munitions found near Vero Beach, disposal scheduled for January 28
Munitions associated with Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base Formerly Used Defense Site
Jacksonville, Fla. – During an offshore removal action conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in Indian River County, south of Vero Beach, to address debris associated with past military activities at the former Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base, contractors discovered two suspected bombs in approximately 11 feet of water. This weekend, an explosives and ordnance disposal unit from the Mayport Naval Station will excavate the items, which are about 50 percent buried in the sand. They will then float and tow the items approximately one mile offshore for assessment and possible underwater detonation, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28.
The military used the Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base, an area of about 19,000 acres between Vero Beach and Jensen Beach, during World War II for amphibious training and to develop and test procedures for breaching and removing beach fortifications expected to be encountered in Europe and Japan. A variety of ordnance was tested against these fortifications. The Corps was in the process of searching for and removing objects known as horned scullies, which are obstacles intended to damage landing craft, when the two items were discovered, about 50 feet apart. It is unknown at this time whether the items contain explosives but because they are located offshore in deep water, they do not pose an immediate danger to swimmers or boaters.
The Corps is coordinating the disposal of the items with the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Indian River County. Once the items are excavated, crews will use flotation bladders to raise and assess them to determine if they are fuzed, render them safe and then tow them to an area about one mile offshore for disposal by detonation, if needed.
“This process will take several hours and to ensure safety, we always assume the items are functional, fuzed ordnance. To maintain a safe perimeter while the items are being moved, occupants of some nearby residences will be asked by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office to remain indoors or leave their homes temporarily, possibly for not more than two or three hours” said Frank Araico, project manager.
“Safety is our top priority,” added Araico. “If you think you have found munitions, please follow the “3Rs” of explosives safety: Recognize that the object you have found may be munitions, and munitions may be dangerous; Retreat without touching or moving the object; Report what you have found by notifying local law enforcement or calling 9-1-1 immediately.”
For more information about the Formerly Used Defense Sites program in general, or the Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base project specifically, please call 866-279-4880 or e-mail FUDS.FLORIDA@usace.army.mil.