Video of Canadian Forces divers removing unexploded shells
Video: by Canadian Forces Combat Camera, used with permission
© Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Department of National Defence, 2019
Video of clearance divers from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) removing unexploded artillery shells (also called unexploded ordnance or UXO) from two of the Bell Island shipwrecks in July 2019.
My name is Lieutenant Zach Johnson with the Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic).
Navy officer in uniform standing on ship.
So we’re here this summer in Bell Island or in the vicinity of Bell Island Newfoundland.
Group of Navy divers onboard their ship.
We’re diving on four wrecks in the area, and our job is to look for and then
Navy diver board small rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) from ship.
collect and then finally dispose of unexploded ordnance.
RHIB sailing on ocean with Navy divers.
So these ordnances were ammunition that were on these merchant ships, which were sunk in 1942,
Diver entering ocean from RHIB.
and now remain on the wrecks and could possibly pose hazards
Underwater images of the outside of large shipwrecks.
to civilian recreational divers who like to explore the wrecks.
Underwater image of a pile of unexploded artillery shells on deck of shipwreck.
So originally we’ve been tasked by ADM IE (so the assistant deputy minister for infrastructure and environment).
Navy officer in uniform standing on ship.
It’s their responsibility to manage what we call legacy UXO sites throughout Canada.
Underwater image of Navy diver swimming on a large shipwreck.
So these legacy UXO sites are areas where there might be unexploded munitions,
and this is all across the country, so most of these are old training areas
Underwater image of looking inside cabin of shipwreck and seeing a sink.
from like the Second World War where, you know, say the Army had a mortar range
Image of diver with umbilical cord and scuba tanks exploring a shipwreck using a flashlight.
and they practiced and now there might be some leftover duds that remain there
and there’s a number of these sites all across the country.
Two Navy divers swim along the deck of a shipwreck.
They manage them and based on a priority list and as funding is available,
it’s their endeavor to slowly clean them up over the, you know, next number of years.
We pick one wreck at a time, we go down.
Navy officer points at image of a shipwreck on a large computer monitor.
Again, we conduct some recce dives. We look for ammunition lockers.
Underwater image of view inside a storage room on a shipwreck with a pile of long wooden boxes.
We look for ammunition that might have been stored at the gun mounts,
as well as any ammunition that might have fallen around onto the decks,
Underwater image of a pile of unexploded artillery shells on the deck of a shipwreck.
or onto the sea floor when the ships were sunk.
Then over the series of the next few dives, we collect all of the ammunition that we can find.
Underwater image of artillery shells inside a cargo net.
We move it to a single point underwater where it’s safe to recover from the ship,
Underwater image of cargo net being hauled up off a shipwreck towards the surface of the ocean.
and then we bring the ship over in close proximity and hoist the ammunition to the surface,
Cargo net of objects is lowered by crane onto a ship.
The ship goes back to Long Pond Harbor alongside the jetty there,
Cargo net full of objects is lowered by crane from ship to wharf near a truck.
and we transfer ashore to an awaiting EOD team,
then in cooperation with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP,
Shells are lifted by Navy sailors from wharf into the back of a pick-up truck.
we transfer it out to our disposal site, which is at Cambrai rifle range.
Same pick-up truck backing up on gravel road near grassy area.
There we have another team who has prepared that site
Soldier carrying an object from the back of the pick-up truck into the grassy area.
and they’ve got a disposal area ready, so we can dispose of it
Pile of rusty artillery shells in bottom of a pit dug in grassy area.
and get rid of it so it’s no longer a hazard for people in the future.
An explosion in middle of grassy area throws up chunks of soil, which rain down.