EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE DISPOSAL (EOD)

AMMO. & EXPLOSIVES COMPANY

3rd REGIMENT AFM

Throughout the centuries, the Maltese Islands have earned themselves many titles. There are those that called them the Jewel of the Mediterranean, or the Bridge between Europe and Africa.

During the Second World War, it earned the title of Fortress in the middle of the Mediterranean. It was a merited title for in each war the Maltese were involved in, these Islands have truly shown what a real fortress it is and difficult to be taken by the enemy.

Proof of how much of a true Fortress was Malta is the amounts of wartime bomb finds that still occur till this very day: bombs that somehow ended buried around Malta on land and at sea.

Immediately when such a find is made, the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) of the AFM is called in to utilize its experience and expertise in neutralizing the bomb, which is afterwards disposed of in areas out at sea, well away so as not to constitute anymore a danger.

Between 1981 and 1989 alone, the EOD was called up for no less than 233 cases, that is an average of one find every 15 days. During these finds, 624 bombs of all sorts were elevated (ranging from hand grenades to 1,000 kg aerial bombs). This means a bomb find every 5 days.

In their majority, the finds involve bombs of a British manufacture, particularly in the Grand Harbour area. This was because the cargo ships loaded with munitions were usually sunk on their arrival in Grand Harbour or close to their arrival in our country.

If one looks at the bomb finds' locations, one cannot help noting that the majority are concentrated in the Cottonera area around Grand Harbour. Normally, finds on land occur when there are excavation works for new building constructions, and it is then that the experts' work commences. Till 1973, the danger was removed at great risk for the personnel. Using British trained methods, the EOD used to dismantle the bomb to neutralize it by removing its fuse and explosive. This was a lengthy operation which probably endangered unnecessarily the personnel.

Subsequently, it was found that the found bomb could be neutralized by careful handling and thrown out at sea. This procedure does not remove the risk factor since before the bomb's transportation it has to be assured that there is no other added danger.

EOD is also responsible for those procedures which the Courts order in cases of explosions, accidental or not, that occur from time to time., or when finds concerning explosives for illicit purposes are found. Between 1984 and 1989, EOD was called up for 134 cases, the majority of which (83) were explosions. These include fireworks factory explosions. In 1987 alone there were 24 cases. In all these incidents 71 persons were wounded, some at the cost of their lives.

EOD is called up in instances when bomb threats are received which more often than not would be cheap sick jokes by somebody with a warped mind. The section cannot afford though to take nothing lightly, and thus performs its duties to the letter.

More often than not, the personnel of this section do not get their due credit. This may have been because throughout the years, none of them have fallen victim of their own job. Who knows? If that is the case, one augurs that this section's personnel continue to work in quiet anonymity and never seeking to get a mention.


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Last Updated: July 2007