GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY — Historic — and potentially dangerous — flotsam has been washing up on shore in the North Beach area of Grays Harbor County. Recently, multiple beachcombers have reported finding World War II-era anti-aircraft high explosive rounds.

The rounds, which look like large rifle ammunition, according to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, are about six to eight inches long, and about 20 millimeters in diameter. Many of the rounds were encased in soft back rock or a dark, sludgy material.

“There was an active naval station in Pacific Beach, and it is believed that they were dumped off of a boat or buried by the military sometime around 1941,” Chief Criminal Deputy Brad Johansson said in an email. “It appears it is more likely they were buried, but all of this is speculation.”

The base started out as a popular honeymoon hotel in the early 1900s. However, at the start of World War II, “the Navy and the Air Force moved in and used the site on and off as a regional headquarters, gunners’ school, radar station and, finally, as a Naval Facility,” according to an article on the U.S. Navy website. Naval Facility Pacific Beach had an allowance of 12 officers, 115 enlisted and 15 civilians. It was decommissioned in 1987.

The sheriff’s office said the ammunition should be considered dangerous and potentially unstable.

“These rounds can explode upon impact,” Johansson said in a press release. The antique ammunition should not be moved, touched or transported, Johansson said. Anyone who finds it on the beach or has already collected it should leave it in place, mark its location and call Grays Harbor non-emergency dispatch at 360-533-8765. In Pacific County, the number is 360-642-9397.

Natalie St. John is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or nstjohn@chinookobserver.com.

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