November 13th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1955, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram ran a heart-warming piece about an explosives dumping zone established before World War II in the Pacific Ocean between San Clemente Island, Santa Barbara Island, and Santa Catalina Island. The zone was off the normal shipping lanes and covered 100 square miles. 

At the time of the article, the Seal Beach Naval Ammunition and Net Depot dumped a load of 150 to 200 tons of obsolete, unserviceable bombs, shells, depth charges, and other explosives from local naval installations, air stations, and civilian ordnance contractors approximately every two months.

According to Lt. Commander Nelson W. Sanders, the depot officer in charge of the disposal program, the Navy crew members handling the dumping received hazard pay. A tugboat would tow a lighter to the dumping zone and then let it loose to drift as the crew scattered the explosives overboard to the sea floor more than half a mile below. When the lighter was empty of explosives, the tugboat returns to the lighter and tows it back to Anaheim Landing. Sanders bragged of the accident free record of the disposal program.  He assured reporter Herb Shannon that all the explosive materials were processed for disposal and that there was “no possibility of any of this material coming back up on the beach.”

– Michael Dobkins


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