Updated Feb. 22
The Edgartown Police Department notified the public on its Facebook page that they found unexploded ordnance (UXO) at South Beach on Sunday. The Massachusetts State Police’s bomb squad conducted a “controlled detonation” that afternoon, according to the post.
Edgartown Lt. Chris Dolby said different types of ordnance have been found for years since the Navy conducted training near the Island during World War II. “It happens pretty frequently,” Dolby said. “Erosion uncovers these warheads. It’s pretty wild how history keeps getting dug up.”
Typically, a beachgoer who is walking along the shoreline finds a UXO and reports it to the police. In this situation, the local police department called the State Police’s bomb squad, according to Dolby. At times, the Navy also gets involved to give a better evaluation of the UXO.
Dave Procopio, director of media communications at the Massachusetts State Police, said a trooper from the bomb squad and Navy explosives ordnance disposal specialists were flown into Katama Airport by the state police’s air wing. Upon arrival and inspection of the South Beach UXO, the Navy explosive ordnance disposal investigators “tentatively identified” the UXO as a five-inch Zuni rocket warhead and motor.
“[The] object highly deteriorated and the heavy rust and scale buildup were consistent with long-term saltwater exposure. The warhead and motor were countercharged, revealing the warhead to be inert and filled with plaster. The countercharge also allowed the investigators to determine no detonating fuse was present, and the motor was empty,” Procopio told the Times.
Dolby said that this can be done in February since not many people are at the beach, but during the busier time of the year, the UXO would be moved somewhere else before detonation, such as the property at the old landfill in Edgartown. “It could have been a dummy round,” Dolby said. “They’re also sometimes live. It’s not surprising to find both.”
The UXO was moved to the Edgartown Police Department, where the bomb squad will collect and dispose of the item at a later date, according to Procopio.
Updated with information from the Massachusetts State Police.