Provision of urgent UXO investigation at West Sussex Leisure Centre development

On Monday 21 January, Fellows received a phone call reporting that an item of possible UXO had been unearthed while undertaking demolition works on a site in Broadbridge Heath where a new leisure centre was being constructed.

The item was identified, via photograph, as a possible unexploded bomb (UXB) and site personnel were advised to leave the item in situ until positive identification and subsequent risk had been assessed by a qualified Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Engineer.

Solution

Within just a few hours, Fellows Operations Manager and EOD Engineer, Jason Webb was at the site to complete the investigation.

Jason was able to identify the item as a 15-inch projectile and most likely a Howitzer shell or Naval Shell which were in use with the British Armed Forces during the First World War (Howitzer and Naval Shell) and Second World War (Naval Shell).

These munitions had a range of 10,795 yards and fired a high explosive shell that weighed 1,450lbs, but fortunately in this instance at Broadbridge Heath a hole drilled in the side of the casing meant that the shell was confirmed as an empty casing that had been used for bomb disposal training. Once confirmed as being Free from Explosive (FFE) the shell was removed from the site by Fellows and donated to a local museum.

Outcome

The actions from the site management, site personnel and the Fellows EOD Engineer meant that the item could be quickly identified as FFE which avoided a costly and lengthy site evacuation and delay in the development works. 

Due to the significant history of military activity on the site (former bomb disposal school), there was a risk that further items of possible UXO may be found. Fellows recommended that the actions taken for such finds should be repeated but also that a UXO Awareness Briefing is given to site personnel by a qualified and experience Fellows UXO Engineer. Undertaking this would ensure that site management and operatives are fully aware of the potential risk presented on site by items of UXO.
 

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