The 30th anniversary of the Camp Doha explosion is today:
It was super scary at first, because we thought we were under attack. But then when we discovered it was an ammo dump exploding sending dpicm and tow missiles and wp everywhere, it was scarier, because you can kill the people attacking you and make it stop. You can’t stop and ammo dump blowing up.
I really sometimes think I have led an extremely interesting life with a lot of unique experiences.
It sounds like you have.
ETA: I live across from one of the navy’s ammo dumps. Thankfully they have built new bunkers to match what they store there.
Reminder to the impatient among us: TV “coverage” starts at 2:30 EDT, but the England vs. Italy actual match start time is 3:00.
There were a lot of “lessons learned” following the Doha explosion!
I watched some of the videos from the incident. What amused me was how the soldiers reacted to the explosions very much like watching fireworks displays. Humans do seem to have an innate love for things going gloriously BANG.
I worked on an environmental investigation plan for the Port Chicago site. The historical background section was eye-popping.
Would not want a front-seat view of anything like this.
James E Powell
One of the few things we all agree on.
Other than RUN!!! what do you do when an ammo dump is blowing up?
One place I was stationed had this area out in the hinterlands of the base with all these mounds that looked like barrows out of Tolkien. Turns out they were places to pull your big rig into for overnight storage when you were driving loads of explosives long distances. Never occurred to me before that to wonder how that worked, but I guess you wouldn’t want them to overnight at a truck stop.
A friend of my brother’s who served in the Gulf War described it as spending a year in a KMart parking lot on the outskirts of hell. The video certainly did add context to that statement.
I may have missed it in the video, but did they find out what started it?
Your stories remind me of the rain god from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The world seems like it wants to shower you in chaos. Stay safe.
The Doha Dash!
@trollhattan: The Second Pearl Harbor
@WhatsMyNym: My office is on Aberdeen Proving Ground, and there’s occasional background noise of explosions, usually low but sometimes loud enough to rattle the windows. The APG Facebook account runs a regular “What was that sound?” post when testing is scheduled.
I was talking with a friend who grew up in Aberdeen, and she remembered the same thing, from maybe 50 years ago.
Holy cow; the photos and footage in that video are something. I can only imagine how terrifying it was to be there when it was happening.
There was some partially restored camera footage that seemed to show a burly, naked fellow with a mop tripping up and falling on one of those old-fashioned plungers just before the explosion, but it wasn’t clear enough to ID him and they never tracked him down.
That reminds me of an aside from my grandfather’s WWII memoir. He was talking about the logistics train for his artillery battalion. On maneuvers in the US, the Army had detailed rules about speed limits, minimum following distances, acceptable loads, etc. for their ammunition trucks. Once they got to France, that stuff all went out the window, and the rule was “bumper to bumper and drive like hell”, because that was safest when people were trying to kill you.
WP= Willie Peter=White Phosphorous.
32 years ago was the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill which was the seminal event in my life during that time period. I had just taken a job as a Federal fisheries observer and was flying over that area on a small float plane in route to a remote processing plant where I was to be stationed. Island after island after island was coated with black tar on the windward sides, even 100+ miles away from Prince William Sound. My subsequent grad school work at the UW was funded by Exxon Valdez settlement money. I was working as a research assistant for a professor who was using Exxon Valdez grant money to fund oil spill response and contaminated sediments research.
In case you want to know what you were fighting for, it was obviously Mayo and Marshmallow, living their best life in Paris: https://twitter.com/rpanchasi/status/1414250831545704454?s=20
@James E Powell: Get in a bunker. Or bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.
I have always assumed that some dumbass 13B had bags of propellant outside of the canisters it was stored in. Either that or something got so hot in that 992 that the bags of propellant cooked off in their canisters – unlikely.
> unique experiences
I appreciate while other blogs obsess about Q, elections or UFOs conspiracies, the worst we have here is where the mustard went.
@Omnes Omnibus:Look at this fine ammo platoon!
@raven: I was ammo platoon leader for a year.
I like Tony Jay’s explanation better…
@Omnes Omnibus: Damn, all we had was an E-5.
@raven: It was a slash job. Service Battery XO/Ammo Platoon Leader.
The destroyer that I was stationed on would load 5 in shells one at a time. handed carried up the gang plank. Each projectile was a real life, high explosive shell that in theory was harmless, but if dropped and landed on the forward end, this could trigger the shell to explode. So up front it’s dangerous. Now add in leather soled shoes, salt water surroundings, and a damp/wet steel gang plank that was nearly a foot high on the off ship end and it was a very dangerous place to be. You may be able to guess where this story is going. Yep, I stepped up, with a 75 lb shell in my arms, which of course meant that there is no way to use the hand lines along the sides of the gang plank, said leather soled shoes, wet deck, I ended up on top of that 75 lb round in my hands, laying down on top of it, leg scraped up by the end of the gang plank, a foot off the dock. I managed to not drop the shell or let the trigger end hit anything, so I’m still here, 5 decades later. I did get out of loading any more munitions.
This was one of the most asinine ways that anyone could have imagined loading those shells, it’s extremely lucky not only that day but every shell loaded upon a navy ship was done that way, at the munitions dump. This could have blown up a very large area and a hell of a lot of humans. Any number of things could have made it far worse than it ended up. But all of the stupid things that caused it in the first place could/should have been foreseen, just waiting to happen. Wanna bet nothing has changed?
@Ruckus: Most projectiles are safe until they are fuzed. Were these all-in-in rounds?
The ship I was stationed on the last 4-5 weeks of my navy enlistment was the command navy ship on the Exon Valdez clean up. USS Juneau LPD-10.
@Omnes Omnibus: And I thought we were under strength!.
@raven: We weren’t. It was designed that way. In garrison, I did the XO role. In the field, I did ammo. The ammo platoon sgt was an old E-7 serving out his time until retirement. In garrison, I signed things and stayed out of the way. In return, he ran things perfectly and made sure I didn’t get in trouble.
Not a navy gunner’s mate or with your army training so my knowledge is/was limited to what I was told the day we loaded. The control fuse was at the nose of the high explosive rounds and turned off as we were told but if dropped directly on the nose, could explode. From the looks on the faces of the workers at the ammo dump, I’d bet this was possible, and had likely been done some where at one time or another. This was just one of the most asinine things I saw in the navy, extreme danger because of ignorance and cheap labor – all those bodies just waiting to do their duty. BTW all the food for the ship came down the dock in semis, loaded on pallets and the maximum weight for any item was that same 75 lbs, because one person could carry that. I helped off load by hand more than one semi full of food during my time before I was high enough ranked to no longer be required to. Not even pallets fork lifted onto the dock, every foot of the way was by hand.
Mike in NC
This all reminds me about when my ship was preparing to deploy to the Persian Gulf, we spent 2-3 days loading ammo at the Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, VA. The pier seemed to be about a mile from shore, just in case if anything blew up the damage would be limited. Fun times.
On board ship many of the tech groups were under staffed. The ship I was on had about 50 empty billets. My group, my second/last year on the DDG, I was an E5 in charge, we were supposed to have an E6 and an E7. We did get a completely useless E6 for about a month while I was an E4, but that was it. Before I made E5 at the end of my second year, the 6 man group was run by one of the more senior E4s, out of 3 of us.
@Ruckus: I made E-4 twice!
@Ruckus: 105 ammo came in boxes of two with a rope handle. Throwin those dudes up in a truck all day would get ya.
@Mike in NC:
Was stationed at Charleston, SC, the ammo dump was up Cooper River, way out in what was then the sticks. This was 71-73
Bet there is a good story in that!
I think the navy was easier to make rank and keep it because it was only a technical test and lack of notice in your file that you couldn’t advance. Not a personal decision of someone who quite often thought you were shit for some reason and didn’t allow you to advance. The navy is/was mostly about operating and maintaining the ships. Without trained and relatively motivated people, the ships don’t move or even stay afloat, let alone be able to be a mobil war machine
Also, most of the higher enlisted ranks and officers did not go outside alone underway. Too easy to slip, unassisted or assisted and end up overboard. And man overboard, spoken in a normal voice didn’t carry very far. At night, you fell over it was about 99% likely you were never even found. I think that tempered a few of the more likely assholes to be less ass.
Had a few close calls while flying jets as a pilot in the military but never (luckily) had to fly while there was combat occurring. Ironically, as a civilian scientist are the only two times I was nearly killed via aircraft (military related.) First via a jet breaking up in flight and the debris almost crashed on me while I was on the ground observing and second time I just missed out on operating equipment (again, as a civilian) for reconnaissance flights over Serbian missile batteries – they had shot down all the drones at the time and the Air Force needed our AC if they couldn’t get another one in time. Again, luckily, they did and I didn’t .
David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch
@David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch: Thank you for sharing what I presume was a personal experience.
David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch
I still struggle with nightmares and flashbacks on time I ate at a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney. The horror. The horror.
@David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch: We are here for you or something.
J R in WV
So in early 1972 my ship was in the Arsenal at Charleston to offload all live ammo before going into the yards for overhaul. There were torpedoes and 5″55 shells and little stuff like .50 BMG, everything but the sidearm ammo of .45s.
Howard W Gilmore, AS-16, big old tall wide sub-tender, actually served in WW II in the 1944-45 era. I spent the last several months in the USN in the yards working my butt off. Only easy duty was as fire-watch for welders and pipefitters — every one of those guys had at least one fire-watch with a big ANSUL fire extinguisher to put out any fire the welder/burner/pipe fitter might start and not be able to see with their eye protection.
@J R in WV:
Was in the yard at Charleston in mid/late 71 while they changed the boilers from bunker oil to JP5 and did some work on the hull in drydock. We weren’t in the yard for long, wasn’t anything like a complete overhaul. The USS Semmes, DDG 18, named after a Confederate Navy officer, who was a US Navy officer from 1829-1860, was only about 10 yrs old at the time, a lot newer than that tender. The second ship I was on out of Long Beach, that I linked to we were in the yard the entire time I was on it, which was 4-5 weeks, although we did a test run and rescued a small boat which had had engine problems and was lost out of power on the way back from Catalina. That ship LPD 10 USS Juneau had a big tailgate and a boat deck, open the tailgate, sink the ship about 4 or 5 feet, flat bottom landing craft float in, pump out the water and up the tailgate, Marines out the wazoo. With the tailgate down they tried to tow that 20 ish foot boat, but almost swamped it and had to get a better boat out there to tow it in. At least they found it. The captain on the LPD had been the flotilla commander of the destroyer squadron out of Charleston, up for promotion but the Pentagon was never going to advance him because he was an incompetent ass. Which he proved daily on the LPD after they denied him promotion and made him captain. It was my glorious pleasure to serve once again under that asshole. At least that’s what I kept telling myself, right up to the second I walked off it the last time, with my Honorable discharge in my hand, less than one minute before the deadline set by the Pentagon, 4 days before. I’m amazed I didn’t give it the one finger salute as I was leaving. Good times.