Sitka Ordnance Turns Out to be Boat Part

The missile-like object found on John Brown’s Beach in Sitka earlier this month is a dud. In fact, it’s not a missile at all, but rather a piece of aluminum pipe, most likely off the back of a commercial fishing boat.

That was the assessment Wednesday by an explosives disposal team from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, who flew to Sitka to take a look at the object. Sitka police Lieutenant Barry Allen says the fins visible on the object were braces that appeared to have once been welded to a deck.

The object was cut into pieces, and disposed of by the U.S. Coast Guard. Part of it remains buried under a large rock on the beach.

Allen wrote in an e-mail to Raven News, quote, “I’d hazard a guess to say that any commercial fisherman could have looked at it once it was uncovered and told us exactly what it was.”

The explosives team also detonated six cannonballs at a quarry north of town. Allen says it’s not the first time police have had to deal with the historic ordnance.

Allen says it’s hard to tell how old the cannonballs are – they’re pretty rusty, a lot of them – but Bob Medinger, executive director of the Sitka Historical Society, says it’s possible some of them could trace back to when the Russians were in Sitka, in the early-and-mid 1800s.

Medinger says it’s important for people to know that cannonballs can still contain live explosives. He says anyone who discovers one, whether in the forest or hidden away in the back of an attic, should contact authorities and have them take a look.

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