It’s a no-go for boaters on explosive-laden Browns Island

1 Jun 2018 | Cpl. Breanna Weisenberger Marine Corps Installations East

For many years, a no-trespassing policy has been in effect for Browns Island, an attractive area for boaters that sits on the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway adjacent to the base to prevent visitors from coming in contact with potentially-explosive ordnance. The policy also reminds users of the AIW to avoid bottom-disturbing activities in the creeks and tributaries leading to and around Browns Island where buried ordnance has been found.

“Camp Lejeune has been here since 1942 and almost since then [Marines] have been doing live fire on Browns Island,” said Mr. Nicholas Klaus deputy director range control branch and range control officer. “We no longer shoot live ordnance on Browns Island, however there is still a lot of it present on the island and in the waters around it.”

According to Klaus, there has been a variety of live ordnance discovered buried on Browns Island in the past, some of which was still considered live after a failure to detonate--the largest being a 500 pound bomb.

Unexploded ordnance consisting of bombs, shells, grenades, landmines or naval mines that did not explode when they were employed still pose a risk of detonation, many decades after they were used or discarded.

“Many types of UXO have very sensitive fusing after being fired,” said Sgt. Lawrence J. Germuska, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “Once it’s in the impact area, we don’t know (its) condition.”

According to Germuska trespassers will anchor on or around Browns Island and walk around thinking that the signs represent the border, but this is not the case. The sand is constantly shifting and exposing UXO and even releasing it into the intercoastal waterway.

“Anything like moving it, kicking it or dropping it could cause it to go off,” said Klaus “You might hit a piece that you can’t even see buried underneath of the muck or sand which might cause it to blow up. It certainly could hurt you, or damage your boat.”

If UXO is discovered anywhere on base Germuska advises individuals to call the Provost Marshal's Office or Range Control and EOD will be sent out to evaluate it.

“Once we determined the condition of the ordnance, we can perform a render-safe procedure, but if we’re not allowed to move the item (according to regulations) we will have to detonate it in place."

According to Germuska, EOD technicians have more experience than the general public because they deal with ordnance every day and continually train to know where to step, what to look for and how to navigate around impact areas.

For more information, go to <http:> or please call the Base Public Affairs Office at (910) 451-7440.</http:>