BAY HEAD, N.J. — A plume of water shot about 125 feet in the air and a boom echoed through town Wednesday as a military explosives team detonated a suspected mine that a diver had discovered partially buried in the Atlantic Ocean.
Police evacuated about 15 homes in a quarter-mile radius before the operation, Bay Head Police Sergeant Todd LaRue said. The Coast Guard kept boats clear of the area.
An ordnance disposal team assigned to a naval station in Colts Neck examined the device after it was discovered Tuesday night, and decided the only safe thing to do was to detonate it in place at high tide the next day.
The device was believed to be a moored contact mine from either World War I or II, base public affairs officer Michael Brady said.
Brady said the team suspects only the 10-pound C-4 charge of explosives used to detonate the device exploded. The team was taking a piece of metal that survived the blast back to the base to try to determine what the device was and where it may have come from.
During World War II, German U-boats patrolled the ocean just beyond the horizon and targeted merchant ships as they sailed along the coast. Hurricane Sandy last year may have exposed the device.
The explosives team has responded a half-dozen times to similar incidents since the storm hit the Jersey shore on Oct. 29, but mainly to the north near Sea Bright and Sandy Hook.
While startling to some, the discovery of old munitions on Jersey shore beaches or just offshore is not all that unusual. The military has said it dumped large quantities of munitions overboard at the end of both World Wars as the conflicts were ending.