Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, war erupted among several factions including the Republic of Bosnia – Herzegovina, Bosnian Serbs, Croatian and Serbian entities. During the conflict which lasted from 1992 thru nearly the end of 1995 when the Dayton Accords were enacted, a huge amount of shelling took place using mortars and artillery. Much of the shelling was random and arbitrary, resulting in unexploded ordinance in the Sava River which borders Bosnia and Croatia.
So, with that in mind, it’s been over 20 years that much of these unexploded mortar rounds and grenades have lain untouched, hidden from view and still very much alive. Much like top side mine fields, missions are undertaken to retrieve and render this unexploded ordinance to protect the public. This work is definitely not for the faint of heart and probably fair to say it’s not for the average public safety diver! However, ERDI-trained divers were there.
In September of 2012, teams and personnel from Croatian Army and Border Police, Bosnian Army and Border Police, along with Czech Republic Police ERDI divers, launched an initial mission to recover about 150 shells, 120 mm mortars from the Sava River. Normally, unexploded shells would be detonated in place, however this was not possible without putting the public at risk. So, out of the water it comes. Occasionally a mortar would be discovered that was extremely unstable and these would be destroyed in place.
In September of 2013, teams returned to the Sava River for more demining and removal. During this mission, over 3 tons of unexploded artillery shells were removed and then destroyed with well-placed explosives.
ERDI has a long history with our ERD Underwater Explosives Recovery course. To learn more about ERDI programs, visit tdisdi.com
We also extend our thanks to Michal Piskula of our Eastern Europe regional office for the use of his photographs.
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