- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A World War I mine designed to explode upon contact with a ship or submarine was discovered by a Hollywood man Sunday afternoon on the shoreline of his father’s property along Cuckold Creek, state authorities report, and he loaded it into a pickup truck to take it home.
It wasn’t until then that Stephen Hassay realized what he had, according to the state fire marshal’s office, and when he got back to his residence at Nats Creek Road, he called 911. St. Mary’s sherif’s deputies, the fire marshal’s bomb squad and an Army explosives team decided that the mine was still live, and to leave it where it was and escort the truck across the county to Newtowne Neck State Park, where the mine was buried and blown up at about 5 a.m. Monday.
“It was already in position” in the truck, Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Bouch said Monday, “and it was secure.”
Hassay initially thought he’d found an old buoy along the water at his father’s home at Half Pone Point Road, the fire marshal’s office reports, and he put it in the back of the pickup truck before seeing a placard on its outer shell, stating it was a U.S. Navy mine. A family member reached by phone Monday at a Half Pone Point Road residence declined to comment on the matter.
Bouch said it would have been safer to call authorities from the scene of the discovery. “Something could have gone awry,” he said, noting that the mine was designed to float just below the water’s surface and go off when it was struck.
But as the mine already was in the truck when authorities were called, “they utilized his truck to continue to transport it,” Bouch said, and the police escort accompanied the transfer to the park on a remote peninsula along the Potomac River.
The park has been closed since a series of discoveries last winter of other old ordnance on the property, the deputy fire marshal said. “It was chosen [on Sunday] because of its vast size,” he said. “They knew it wasn’t populated.”
Fort Belvoir's 55th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company handled destroying the mine.
“They buried it in the ground, and placed charges and covered it. And they exploded it intentionally to render it safe,” Bouch said. “It’s not something you want to try to open to see if it’s OK or not.”
The blast was contained in that immediate area, the investigator said, and there were no reports of injuries or property damage.