German EOD team destroy confiscated ammunition

Master Sgt. Jörg Wagner
First published April 28, 2003

One hundred 122-mm artillery ammunition, fuses and mortar rounds, 2,233 hand grenades and 125 packets of TNT (trinitrotoluol) were seized in the course of inspections at the ammunition factory 'Unis Pretis' last January and February. The ammunition was stored at the ammunition field supply point and was to be destroyed at the next opportunity.

Kalinovik - The combat Engineer Company at Camp Carreau in Rajlovac was instructed to destroy the confiscated ammunition together with an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team under the leadership of Master Sgt. Oliver Bürmann on 24 and 26 March. Due to the prevailing snow conditions, the demolition range was not accessible for a long time.
More than 2,000 hand grenades and 125 packets of TNT
Bürmann led the convoy up to the demolition range in Kalinovik early Monday morning, March 24. Upon arrival, they removed the 2,233 hand grenades and 125 packets of TNT from the ammunition vehicle. In all, 1.3 tons of ammunition were to be destroyed that day. The access control sentries moved into their positions on the terrain. Capt. Armin Brücher, the EOD Platoon leader was also present. He and Bürmann took the first box, weighing about 50 kilograms and containing 120 grenades in two layers, to the demolition range. The ammunition was covered with approximately six kilograms of PETN (plastic explosive). Electric detonating cable with a length of 500 metres was then laid out to the armoured transport vehicle, which served as cover. Now was the time for all soldiers involved to leave the detonation area. Bürmann commenced phase 2, which involves checking continuity (voltage flow) and connecting the electric detonating caps. The demolition of the first box was initiated from where they took cover. Then the EOD team leader checked that the demolition had been successful. He checked whether the demolition had really caused the ammunition that had to be destroyed to explode. A sure sign for this was the fact that the fragments were small and had a bluish colouring.
Successful process
Next, six more boxes were prepared and covered with plastic explosive. The Master Sergeant fixed secondary firing circuits that guaranteed the simultaneous initiation of all charges. "It is important that the detonation is not interrupted," he said. "The detonation shock wave has a speed of 8,000 m/sec, exerting a pressure of more than 100,000 bar while sweeping over the ammunition that has to be destroyed," he continued. The second demolition was also successful, and the process was repeated twice. At the end, Brücher emphasised: "The demolition range is limited to 100 kilograms of plastic explosive per demolition. Otherwise we could have destroyed more ammunition."

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Photos: Sgt. Lars Elstermann

Capt. Brücher (r.) and Master Sgt. Bürmann prepare the first explosion.

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After such an explosion, there is no chance that the grenades are still active.

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Some of the seven boxes containing 2,233 hand grenades, ready to be destroyed.