Mumbai, June 14 (IANS) The Indian Navy has safely disposed of 90 unexploded ordnances, believed to be of World War II vintage, discovered during dredging operations in the Mumbai Harbour over the past few days, a defence official said here Friday.
The recoveries were made during operations by two dredgers to widen and deepen the main shipping channel which can improve capability and facilitate movement of higher tonnage and deeper draught vessels for the Mumbai Harbour.
The Mumbai Harbour’s 34-km-long navigation channel serves the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the Bombay Port Trust and also the Indian Navy.
The capital project, taken up since April this year, has been severely hampered by the recovery of the UXOs (unexploded ordnance) from the channel. As a result, nearly 80 percent of the channel deepening-widening work has been left pending.
“The JNPT requested the Indian Navy for assistance in safe disposal of these UXOs, which we have done,” the defence official said.
The disposal was done by an expert team comprising explosive ordnance disposal squad and the naval armament depot, he said.
The dredging operations are being carried out by two Trailing Suction Hopper Dredgers, the TSHD Queen of Netherlands and TSHD HAM 318.
According to port officials, so far, recoveries include 83 bomb shells, several missiles, grenades and bullets.
The officials explained that though recovery of stray UXOs is routine in and around Mumbai Harbour, this time the sheer quantity of the cache was baffling.
Efforts are being made to ascertain whether the ordnance could have originated from the famous Bombay Explosion of 1944 when a huge freighter SS Fort Stikine had caught fire and exploded.