Ammunition dump

Ammunition dump

An ammunition dump, ammunition compound, ammunition depot, bomb dump, ammunition supply point (ASP) or ammo dump, is a military storage facility for live ammunition and explosives.

Raid on Vågsøy, 27 December 1941. British commandos watch as an ammunition dump burns. (Operation Archery).

The storage of live ammunition and explosives is inherently hazardous. There is the potential for accidents in unloading, packing and transfer; the threat of theft, misuse or sabotage; and, if neglected, the near-certainty that poorly stored explosives will catch fire and/or degrade and become shock-sensitive over time.

Despite intensive preventive measures, ammunition depots around the world suffer from non-combat fires and explosions - rarely, but mostly with devastating consequences. Usually, an ammunition depot experiencing even minor explosions in one of its sites/buildings, is immediately evacuated together with surrounding civilian areas. Thus, all of the stored ammunition is left to detonate itself completely for days or weeks, with very limted attempts at firefighting from a safe distance.[1] If the ammunitions are artillery shells and other heavy types, the whole depot site affected is typically levelled.


Typical elements

The typical ammo dump will have several of the following elements:

  • A buffer zone or cleared area of at least several hundred feet (sometimes as much as 1–2 km or 1 mile) surrounding the facility, in the event of an explosion
  • Perimeter security, such as a fence, to avoid casual access by unauthorized persons
  • Guards equipped and in numbers relative to the potential threat from enemy forces
  • Bunkers (sometimes referred to as igloos) (Magazines) where ammunition is stored under lock and key
  • Blast barriers (Traverses), such as an earth berm or buried pit, to divert the force of the blast (typically upward, but sometimes to the side) in case the ammunition detonates
  • Safety Distances are calculated between storage sites (magazines) and outside infrastructure to limit damage and set maximum holdings of net explosive content per site.
  • A loading area (Transit Building or Area) for transferring stored ammunition to and from trucks, ships, railway wagons, etc.
  • A flooding system in large facilities to put out a fire or prevent an explosion in a magazine.
  • An Ammunition Repair Facility or workshop will be found in many ammunition facilities. This facility is used for the repair, breakdown, inspection, and manufacture of ammunition held within or brought to the Depot.
  • A Destruction Area (Demolition Range) used for the disposal by burning or detonation of defective, surplus, or obsolete ammunition and explosives.

Field sites

Ammunition dump as a term is more commonly ascribed to sites that store munitions "in the field" for imminent or immediate use. These are often targets for enemy artillery attack or air attack.

See also


External links

Technical guidelines on the safe management of ammunition stockpiles

About old undersea ammunition dumping (and historical pollution).