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Bomb Squad Called in for Decades-Old Howitzer Round in Storage Shed

The round stayed at her house, moving along with her from Portsmouth to North Kingstown, where it sat for 20 years before she put it into her storage unit about three weeks ago.

The round. Photo: East Greenwich Police Department
The round. Photo: East Greenwich Police Department
A 3-foot-long live tank round that had been sitting in a North Kingstown woman's basement for two decades was removed from a storage shed at Self Storage Place on Post Road in East Greenwich last week after the woman reported she moved it there three weeks ago and was now worried it might blow up in the heat.

Police said the woman, identified by police as a 67-year-old North Kingstown resident, reported on May 13 that she got the round about 26 years ago when an old boyfriend of her daughter brought what appeared to be an explosive to her house as a gift for her son.

She couldn't remember the old boyfriend's name, but recalled he was a diver in the Navy and at that time was a diver at the Newport Shipyard.

All those years, she thought the round was a dummy, similar to dummy grenades and shells that can be bought at an Army/Navy surplus store.

The round stayed at her house, moving along with her from Portsmouth to North Kingstown, where it sat for 20 years before she put it into her storage unit about three weeks ago.

With the warmer weather, the woman "became nervous because the container gets very hot in the summer" and was originally planning on bringing the round to police but decided to talk to an officer first, according to a police report.

Police arrived at the storage container, cordoned the area off and upon close inspection, saw no evidence the round was a dummy round at all. There was no sign of holes being drilled to empty explosive material and the main body had "flight test" printed on it. 

The round, which resembles a bomb, had serial numbers and was labeled as a 105 mm round with fins on the bottom that were connected to a device that appeared to be a motor used to deploy them.

Police then called the state bomb squad, who investigated the device and made contact with the United States Navy. By this time, a contingent of firefighters, police, the town and state fire marshals had gathered at the scene, blocking the area off.

Police said the bomb squad officials determined it appeared to be an experimental training round originating from the United States military and it was unclear how old it was or if it was inert or not. A Navy official from the Newport Naval Base, upon being contacted by the bomb squad, said the round could be brought to the base to be properly destroyed.

The round was removed from the storage unit and the scene was cleared with no issues.


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