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Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Removing Iraqi Speed Bumps

"Removing Iraqi Speed Bumps." A Navy EOD diver (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and a Saudi navy counterpart approach a live Iraqi mine in the Persian Gulf for retrieval and later examination at the EOD unit at Jubayl, Saudi Arabia. Painting by Chip Beck (91-159-AC).

Prior to World War II, there were no formally trained bomb or mine disposal personnel, but the need became apparent when in 1939, the British navy dismantled the first German magnetic mine that had washed up on the shore of Shoeburyness, England. In 1941, the U.S. Naval Mine School was established at Naval Gun Factory in Washington, D.C., and subsequently, the Bomb Disposal School was established. The first U.S. casualty in mine disposal was in 1942, when Ensign John M. Howard was killed when he attempted to dismantle a booby-trapped German magnetic submarine-laid moored mine. About 20 trained bomb and mine disposal personnel, to include Howard, were killed in action during WWII.

In 1946, the U.S. mine and bomb schools combined at the Bellevue Annex at the Naval Gun Factory, and then moved to the Naval Powder Factory, Indian Head, Maryland. The training curriculum was designated explosive ordnance disposal giving birth to the term “EOD.” The following year, the Bureau of Naval Weapons designated the first naval unit for “research, development, test, and evaluation of EOD equipment,” and would later become an integral part of the EOD School.

In 1953, two major operational EOD units were established. EOD Unit ONE supported operations in the Pacific and was homeported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. EOD Unit TWO supported operations in the Atlantic and was homeported at Charleston Naval Base, South Carolina. Today, EOD Unit ONE is headquartered at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, and EOD Unit TWO makes Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, its home. In 1999, the EOD school was also consolidated and moved to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where today it is a Joint EOD training facility. Elgin Air Force Base is the home of the EOD Memorial that honors EOD technicians who have given their lives in the performance of their duties.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, EOD personnel deployed in support of the operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The operations would prove to be extremely hazardous with the widespread use of improvised explosive devices and vehicle improvised explosive devices by insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives. More than 130 U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps EOD personnel lost their lives over the duration of the operations. The Navy lost more than 20 of its EOD technicians. Although the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq took a heavy toll on the EOD community, it is immeasurable how many lives they saved.

Today, Navy EOD is staffed with nearly 3,000 officers and enlisted personnel, who are the world’s premier force for maritime mine countermeasures, counter improvised explosive devices, weapons of mass destruction, and all other types of weaponry. Their mission is to provide naval special warfare and conventional forces access to areas laden with explosives. Navy EOD also play a vital role in the safety of service members and civilians. Their bravery and technical skills ensure operational success.


Suggested Reading


Selected Imagery

Lieutenant Richard J. Misel measures German shell on the Anzio Beachhead, 1944

Lieutenant Richard J. Misel of the 149th Bomb Disposal Squad measures a German 210mm general-purpose high explosive shell that landed on the Anzio Beachhead. The dud shell is 42 inches tall and weighs 265 pounds. At left is a 170mm shell. Photographed May 13, 1944 (SC 257650).

Italian "MTM" Explosive Motor Boat

Italian “MTM” Explosive Motor Boat captured by USS Gleaves (DD-423) off San Remo, Italy, 2 October 1944. The boat at Isle St. Marguerite, France, where it was towed for further study of its explosive mechanisms, on 3 October 1944. Personnel on dock are from U.S. Navy Bomb Disposal Unit (NH 77007).

Mineman Second Class Franklin Marshall

Mineman Second Class Franklin Marshall, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal team member, conducts a search for mines, especially those attached to ship's hulls, circa April 1966. The EOD Team was responsible for harbor security. Several merchant ships are in the distance (K-31466).

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 9, Detachment 13

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 9, Detachment 13, attached to USS Missouri prepared to dispose a LUGM-145 mine in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Missouri was in the background (2018.10).

Remote robotics

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Chief Petty Officer Matthew Broderson, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Detachment Northwest, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, discussed the use of remote robotics in the field during a presentation at Seafair's Fleet Week, 5 August 2006 (NARA 6699049).

Unidentified projectile fuse

Petty Officer 1st Class Ben Jones, explosive ordnance technician, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1, gathers intelligence by photographing an unidentified projectile fuse in Tikrit, Iraq, 12 May 2008. EODMU-1 was deployed at the time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (VIRIN: 081205-N-6278K-346).

EOD training

Group photo of U.S. Marine and Navy service members as the last detonation exploded at the conclusion of advanced joint explosive demolition training at Arta Range Complex, Djibouti, 30 December 2013 (VIRIN: 131230-F-NG544-243).

Underwater demolition

A UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) explosive charge blows up an underwater obstacle off Agat Beach, Guam, during the invasion of that island, July 1944 (80-G-700639).

Explosive ordnance disposal technician from USS Chicago (CG-11)

Explosive ordnance disposal technician from USS Chicago (CG-11) recovered a drone after it was knocked down in exercises, November 1965 (NH 55148).

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians Boilerman First Class Paul C. MC. Craw, (left) and Mineman Third Class Ralph E. Loux, examine a Viet Cong Claymore type mine, which was disarmed by a member of the six-man bomb squad assigned to U.S. Naval Support Activity, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. The cutaway exposes the mine's missiles formed of iron construction rods shaped into a coil and notched to break into deadly pellets (NH 73230).

Explosive ordnance disposal suit

U.S. Navy Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class Carl Harris (left) waited patiently as Chief Electronics Technician Ronald Olmsted assembled his EOD-8—explosive ordnance disposal suit—during a training session, 10 May 2005. Members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Four Detachment 12 conducted a final evaluation phase of training to simulate operations the team may experience while supporting maritime security operations (NARA 6655667).

Demolition training

U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Justin Lefan, center, from 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Division, observed U.S. Navy Explosives Ordnance Disposal Specialist 2nd Class Corey Baughmann, left, measure timer fuse cords for Explosives Ordnance Disposal Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Blount before a demolition training during exercise “Natural Fire” at Nginyang, Kenya, 10 August 2006 (NARA 6702189).

4,500 pounds of munitions for detonation

Sailors assigned to Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2, along with members from the Iraqi National Police, prepare approximately 4,500 pounds of munitions for detonation at Shammar Jarba, Iraq, 16 July 2010 (VIRIN: 100716-N-0879R-967).

Published: Thu May 30 12:53:55 EDT 2024