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Post Depleted Urananium in the Adriatic? No
Created by John Eipper on 02/16/15 1:50 PM

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Depleted Urananium in the Adriatic? No (Michael Sullivan, USA, 02/16/15 1:50 pm)

I don't know where Eugenio Battaglia gets his information that there is depleted uranium ammunition all over the bottom of the Adriatic Sea from Trieste to Taranto (16 February). First of all, it would have to be dropped from an aircraft and the only ammunition aircraft carry that have depleted uranium is for 25MM and 30MM canons. Only the A-10 and Harrier carry these rounds. There is no way to jettison canon ammunition as it's a bullet and must be shot or be returned to base with the aircraft.

Bomb jettison areas are always set up in combat zones in case the aircraft has hung ordnance. (This is when the aircraft tried to deliver the bomb or rocket pod and it failed to drop for various reasons and it can't be returned to base or the carrier deck due to the fact it could come loose on landing and detonate.) The pilot was unable to deliver his ordnance on target due to weather and is too heavy to land as the aircraft is over maximum landing weight, or the aircraft has an emergency requiring all external ordnance be jettisoned. This could be mechanical, electric, fire or fuel transfer problems.

I don't believe there was ever a case that US pilots dropped their ordnance in a bomb jettison area in the Adriatic because they were afraid of Serbian guns! This is wishful thinking on Eugenio's part.

JE comments: With all things aviation, Michael Sullivan knows what he's talking about. But I wonder what happened to the Italian fishing boat that sank after netting a bomb?

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  • Bomb Jettison at Sea (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/17/15 7:35 AM)

    When commenting on my post of 16 February, JE asked about the Italian fishing boat that sank after netting an underwater bomb. The rule is you don't ever touch a bomb that has been found buried on land or recovered from the sea bed because they are so very dangerous. That's why there are bomb disposal units accessible in most places worldwide to disarm bombs.

    Bombs that are dropped in a bomb jettison area over water by aircraft are dropped in the "safe" mode, but many times when they hit the water they may explode. However, most don't explode and they sink to the bottom. If a fishing boat net hauls one up it's a live bomb. The only thing a fishing boat can do, if they see a bomb in their nets, is put the net back in the water and try to open the net and get rid of the bomb.

    The good news is that the bomb jettison areas are usually established in very deep water and where the fishing boats troll it's hundreds to thousands of feet above where the jettisoned bombs lay. In Vietnam our Group's bomb jettison area was 30-40 miles out over the South China Sea where the average depth, as I remember, was close to 3,000 feet.

    JE comments:  How many of you knew this?  I'm learning a lot on WAIS today. 

    Specifically regarding the Adriatic, I suppose the bombs littering the ocean floor are from WWII as well as the later Balkan conflicts.  Some of them might even be leftovers from the Great War, especially mines.

    I found this item, which dates from 1994.  The mariners claimed that WWII bombs are rusty and covered with seaweed, while these were fresh and shiny:


    I wonder if Eugenio Battaglia knows Elena Romanato (author of the above).  She is from Savona.

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    • Bomb Jettison, Isle of Wight (John Heelan, -UK 02/17/15 9:55 AM)
      The Isle of Wight is littered with WWII bomb craters created by German bombers jettisoning unused ordnance after raiding the UK and before crossing the Channel back to their home airfields across the Channel.

      JE comments: The Luftwaffe must have thought it preferable to harass the Caulkheads rather than simply to drop the bombs in the Channel.  But any jettisoned ordnance is militarily ineffective.  I'm curious:  when planning a mission, how much emphasis is placed on not "wasting" the bombs?  Do pilots get in trouble for this?  I hope Michael Sullivan can enlighten us.

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    • More on Jettisoning Bombs (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/18/15 2:09 AM)

      Without getting into too much detail, bombs are only jettisoned when they can't be returned to base due to the craft being overweight for landing, or a bomb is hung up on the external bomb rack (the Multiple Ejector Rack, MER, carries 6 bombs or Triple Ejector Rack, TER, carries 3 bombs) by one lug (attempted to drop but only one of the two lugs opened). Other reasons for jettison are the need to reduce the drag to have enough fuel to get back to base, or a serious aircraft emergency. Also there is a charge shaped like a shotgun shell that fires a plunger when the bomb pickle switch is depressed which ejects the bomb clear of the aircraft to avoid bomb/aircraft collisions.

      Ordnance is always in short supply, so jettisoning it is only done when warranted. You can land with bombs and rockets, no problem, providing you're not over gross landing weight.

      JE comments:  Very informative.  I can imagine that when you jettison, much paperwork ensues.  This is certainly the way it would be in Academia--not that we drop bombs, but we do have a lot of paperwork.

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