By Andrea Adelson | LB Indy
Harmless but threatening-looking military rocket containers washed ashore in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, sheriff’s deputies reported on Tuesday.
Bomb squad investigators responded to at least five separate calls between Newport Bay and Laguna’s Bluebird Beach on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 23 and 24, in all recovering several wooden boxes and a dozen expended cylinders along the shoreline that looked like warheads, said bomb squad investigator Thomas Dominguez.
A Newport lobsterman found another box on Tuesday, and a sheriff’s helicopter spotted some cylinders near Crystal Cove, Dominguez said.
A citizen found a box during an early morning walk at Shaw’s Cove early Wednesday, prompting law enforcement to temporarily close down Marine and Cliff Drives. Similar boxes were found at Bluebird Beach at Cress Drive and in front of the Surf and Sand hotel the same day.
“It was nothing harmful, though they are kinda scary containers,” said Thomas, who described the contents as unintentionally jettisoned trash from a military training exercise.
“They don’t leave stuff laying around,” said Dominguez of previous military exercises. “They pick everything up,” he said, including sea flares.
He speculated the trash fell off of a boat in rough seas or fell from a helicopter.
The numbered containers are labeled as 2.75-inch U.S. military practice rocket warheads, but the cylinders were empty, he said. They previously likely contained an ordnance with a small amount of explosive “spotting charge” to see if the target is hit, said Dominguez, who urged responding law enforcement personnel to leave the items in place.
The bomb squad routinely is called to recover old ordnance, typically a veteran’s wartime souvenir.
“Grenade bodies are common,” said Dominguez, though they are illegal since they can be modified into improvised explosive devices.