Canadians destroy massive amount of munitions and weapons

Sgt. Terry Wolaniuk
First published July 14, 2003

During the last week of May 2003, Canadian Engineers, American Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel and other SFOR soldiers from Poland, Romania and Turkey destroyed about 22,000 items weighing an estimated 36,000 kilograms consisting in munitions, unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and weapons at Velika Ribnica Range.

Banovici - The items, which included various artillery shells, tank rounds, mortars, rockets, AK-47 and SKS assault and sniper rifles have been collected from throughout Northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina. The collections were either directly from the armed forces or from individual citizens in weapons collection drives known as 'Operations Harvest'. The ordnance was from a Weapon Storage Site in Doboj in the US Area of Responsibility. This weapons storage site is the central collection point for weapons and ordnance from other storage sites that are being shut down due to downsizing and confiscation due to non-compliance with established peace accords.

A substantial quantity of C-4
For five days, ten soldiers from 13 Field Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment currently serving with the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) joined a US EOD team from the 221st Ordnance Company, 35th Infantry Division in Banovici near Tuzla to assist in the destruction of the ordnance. The US EOD team had more than seven sea containers full of various ammunition, UXOs, and weapons and this didn't include the multiple truckloads that the Polish, Russian, and Turkish EOD teams delivered as well.

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Over 22,000 ordnance items with an estimated weight of 36,000 kg have been destroyed.

With such a large amount of items to dispose of - more than the equivalent of 44 one-ton pick-up trucks - a substantial quantity of the plastic explosive C-4 was required. Over the five days nearly 100 crates of C-4 (that's 4000 blocks, or 2,700 kilograms) were put to work.. Due to the sheer volume being disposed, conventional methods would prove to be too time consuming and wasteful of the C-4. Instead, the teams used the explosive power of some of collected munitions to destroy smaller natures of ammunition, in addition to strategically placed C-4. For example, the explosive content of anti-tank mines worked incredibly well in destroying small arms ammunition, 105mm HE (high explosive) rounds worked fabulously in making the white phosphorous rounds vanish, and with a lot of C-4 other nasty devices were destroyed.

Another two range weeks
Every time the button was pressed and an overwhelming shock wave came down the valley to kick us in the chest, there was satisfaction in knowing that there were fewer weapons and munitions in this country. There was also realisation that we were likely preventing loss of life in the future. However, while this range is complete, we know the mission is not over. As the Canadians departed from their American EOD friends, three more sea containers filled with more munitions and weapons arrived. Engineers estimated another two range weeks were in order to keep up with the inflow of ordinance.
Chimo! (Rallying cry of the Canadian Engineers).

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Canada

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Photos: Sgt. Carole Morisette

Pvt. Rufca Hirtle and Master Cpl. Frank Cross lay the plastic explosive C-4 among 76-mm white phosphorous smoke artillery rounds slated for destruction on May 30, 2003.


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Sappers Craig Tucker and Gerald Langlois lay the plastic explosive C-4 among 76-mm white phosphorous smoke artillery rounds slated for destruction on May 30, 2003.


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Sappers Nathan Goisnard, Cody King and Jeff Gray lay the plastic explosive C-4 among 76-mm white phosphorous smoke artillery rounds slated for destruction on May 30, 2003.



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Sapper Craig Langlois and Master Cpl. Frank Cross lay more of the plastic explosive C-4 among 76-mm white phosphorous smoke artillery rounds slated for destruction on May 30, 2003.


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Sapper Gerald Langlois of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment prepares several 76-mm white phosphorous artillery rounds using the plastic explosive C-4.