Eglin AFB, local, joint partners to dispose WWII era unexploded ordnance in Choctawhatchee Bay

  • Published

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Divers from Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six, Detachment from Panama City, will dispose of unexploded ordnance with controlled underwater detonations in the Choctawhatchee Bay Feb. 14, 2024, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The backup date for the disposal is Feb. 15 if weather is bad, there are people or water mammals in the area, or other safety concerns are identified by the responders.

Army Corps of Engineers environmental restoration contractors discovered two World War II-era UXOs off-shore at Eglin AFB’s Bay Range in Shalimar, near Two Georges Marina Jan. 15, and a third UXO Jan. 29 during an Air-Force funded routine remedial investigation of the Bay Legacy Range.

The plan is to dispose of the 80-year-old UXOs, two 250-pound bombs and a 1000-pound bomb, the same day to minimize impact to the public. This disposal will not require residential or commercial evacuations and there is no danger to the public.

People, vessels, and water-based activities are required to remain clear of the safety zone during these mission times for their safety. The safety zone includes all navigable waters of the Choctawhatchee Bay within an up to 2,050 yard radius of approximate position 30°25’52.57314”N,  86°35’08.49867”W, and a moving safety zone around any vessel involved with relocating unexploded ordnance.

The safety zones will be enforced during daylight hours on Feb. 14 and, if required, during the backup date of Feb. 15, 2024. The U.S. Coast Guard Destin and Okaloosa Sheriff’s office will have people in the area to prevent boaters from entering the safety zone.

“We have committed the required resources and conducted exhaustive planning efforts with our partner agencies to ensure the safe disposal of the UXOs,” said Col. Thomas Tauer, 96th Test Wing deputy commander.

The UXO disposal mission is a coordinated effort between the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron, the USACE Omaha District Military Munitions Design Center, the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the U.S. Navy EOD Mobile Unit SIX Detachment Panama City, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Programs, the U.S. Coast Guard Destin, the Okaloosa County Sheriff Department and its Marine Unit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This has been a team effort throughout the process from discovery to planning how to dispose of these UXOs.  USACE, the Navy, the Coast Guard, Okaloosa County Sheriff Department-Marine unit, along with multiple state and county agencies have been extraordinarily supportive, and we greatly appreciate their partnership and professional assistance,” Tauer said.

For more information, please contact the 96th Test Wing Public Affairs office at (850) 882-3931.