Nautical aspects of bomb disposal
MEMBERS gathered at the Police Officers' Club, Wanchai, to hear Dominic Brittain, Bomb Disposal Officer (BDO), with the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, speak on the topic of bomb disposal.
The small and elite EOD unit consists of five officers and four sergeants, the officers being on two minute call for seven day stints and the sergeants working a 24-hours on, 24-hours off duty roster, rapid response being vital in their line of business. To this end frequent use is made of the Government Flying Service helicopters, and Marine Police launches.
Equipped with their own transport, and specialist kit, the unit has the responsibility to attend every bomb incident in Hong Kong. Included in their extensive equipment is a protective bomb suit, which weighs over 60 lb (27 kg), and a cool suit which is vital for operating in local weather conditions.
How are bombs dealt with by the BDO? One of the following methods is used: (a) take out the fuse; (b) steam out the explosives - this results in an empty but fused bomb, which will still make a spectacular bang but only damages the casing; (c) deflagration - an extremely dangerous burning process; (d) destroyed in situ (i.e., blown up) - this is usually accomplished with one pound of plastic explosive 'on the nose', which results in the bomb functioning as the manufacturer intended, with all that entails; (e) Moved to another location and dumped. This is considered to be the 'final option', and could involve the use of a marine police launch, allegedly manned by 'volunteers', although one of the marine police members questioned the interpretation of the word!
What should the layman do when finding a bomb?
1. Under NO circumstances do anything to it. Leave well alone.
2. Call 999 and ask for the Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit.
3. Leave it to the professionals and heed their advice - e.g., evacuate your ship if necessary.
Contributed by Gordon Wood, MNI
Seaways June 1994