Artillery types

Marines find missing 155mm artillery shells at Camp Pendleton

The Marine Corps is investigating how several artillery rounds at Camp Pendleton ended up closer to the barracks than a live-fire range.

On Oct. 19, Camp Pendleton officials received two separate reports of unexploded ordnance spotted in Area 43 at the base in Southern California, a Navy official said. Emergency services and explosive ordnance disposal personnel responded to the area, known as Las Pulgas, and discovered a 155mm projectile, secured the immediate area and secured the area until October 21 .

“At approximately 12:10 p.m. on Thursday, October 21, EOD personnel safely destroyed the [unexploded ordnance]said Capt. David Mancilla, a base spokesman. He declined to provide further details on the exact location where the bullet was discovered.

A few days later, on October 25, emergency services responded to another report of unexploded ordnance in Area 43 and found two additional 155mm projectiles. Explosives experts determined that both cases were non-explosive shells and that they “detonated in a separate, safe location”, Mancilla said.

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Marine fires an M777-A2 howitzer early in the morning in Syria, June 3, 2017. (US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

It is unclear what type of ammunition was found in the Pulgas area, although marine artillery units are usually assigned thousands of illuminating and smoke projectiles and many other explosive shells. Officials declined to comment, citing an investigation by the 11th Marine Regiment.

“The investigation is ongoing and no additional details are available at this time,” Mancilla said. He declined to say whether the base suspects other rounds may be missing and did not say if there was a danger to the public.

This isn’t the first time military firepower has mysteriously gone missing. In 2015, a soldier admitted to stealing an M107 155mm high explosive artillery round and an AN/PEM 1 laser light during a training exercise in 2009. More recently, a group of Marines from Camp Pendleton made under investigation for allegedly stealing more than 10,000 rounds of rifle, pistol and other small arms ammunition before attempting to sell them on the internet.

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