EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE DISPOSAL (EOD)
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
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
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