Workers discover WWII ‘practice bomb’ at former Brunswick Navy base

Posted Nov. 03, 2011, at 1:03 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 03, 2011, at 2:55 p.m.
An unexploded World War II-era ordnance was found at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station on Tuesday.
Brunswick Police Department
An unexploded World War II-era ordnance was found at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station on Tuesday.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Brunswick police went to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station on Tuesday morning after contractors reported finding what appeared to be a bomb near the Mere Creek Golf Course.

But Navy officials said today that the 2-foot-long “bomb-shaped device” was actually a World War II-era practice bomb, filled with sand and water, dropped by Navy planes to simulate live explosive shells.

Just after 8 a.m. Tuesday, police went to Brunswick Landing near the golf course, where workers for Harry C. Crooker & Sons reported they had found a rusted device lying along an embankment near a drainage ditch, Deputy Chief Marc Hagan of the Brunswick Police Department said Thursday.

Brunswick police Sgt. Russ Wrede, who served in the U.S. Marines, determined from a hole in the side of the device that it did not contain explosives, Hagan said, “but Wrede knew that the detonator could blow up.”

Officers immediately turned the area over to certified explosive ordnance disposal contractors already at the former Navy base this week as part of the environmental evaluation and cleanup process, Mike Braun of the Navy caretaker site office said Thursday.

“One of the experts evaluated the device and said it was a World War II-era sand-and-water bomb,” Braun said. The “practice” bombs were filled with sand and water to equal the weight of a live bomb “so they would have the same trajectory as a live bomb,” Braun said.

The “bomb” found on Tuesday was designed to simulate a 100-pound bomb, he said, and measured approximately 2 feet long.

Still, he acknowledged that on occasion such devices were outfitted with a live charge, or detonator, that experts said “were about the size of a shotgun shell charge, so they would be a better mark when they landed for the guys who were grading the practice drops.”

However, Braun said contractors have not yet determined whether the device found on Tuesday contained a live detonator.

Braun said Tuesday’s discovery may prompt more scrutiny of the area on the former base.

“I would say that finding a World War II-era practice bomb doesn’t mean there’s anything modern in the area. It may mean it’s more likely to find another one of those practice bombs there,” he said. “We’ll talk with the Navy explosives safety people and then make a determination.”

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the entity charged with civilian redevelopment of the former Navy base, did not immediately return a phone call Thursday morning.

To see more from The Times Record, visit timesrecord.com.

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