The Marine Corps experienced a tragic loss on Nov 13, 2013, when four Marines from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community died as a result of a training evolution aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
As a result of the mishap, a command investigation was initiated by Brig. Gen. John Bullard, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West-Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
The investigation established that the exact cause of the explosion is indeterminate, as the only individuals with direct observation are deceased. Based on the findings of the investigation, the most probable cause of the explosion is a M430/A1 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose round was dropped, kicked, or bumped in the demolition pit.
“Many of the training evolutions we conduct are inherently dangerous, especially when dealing with explosives and munitions. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of four Marines during a training evolution; their loss is felt throughout the Marine Corps. We offer our heartfelt prayers and thoughts to the family members, and will continue to support them through this difficult time,” said Bullard.
Upon a thorough review of the command investigation, Bullard relieved the Officer and Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Marine Corps Base Explosive Ordnance Disposal section of their duties on March 4, 2014, for loss of trust and confidence in their ability to ensure proper preparation for and conduct of EOD proficiency training and lack of adherence to the established norms.
Additionally, Bullard directed an immediate review and revision of existing policies and procedures for EOD training aboard all Marine Corps Installations West ranges.
Revisions will include a requirement for more focused Operational Risk Management training on risk assessment, risk mitigation, and appropriate levels of approval; specific coordination requirements for all EOD training requests; mandatory adherence to the range survey requirements contained in the Technical Manual EOD Procedures Surface Range Clearance; and the implementation of additional safety training requirements for EOD personnel not currently required by other directives.