What is an Ammunition Dump?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An ammunition dump is a facility designated for the storage of ammunition and explosives. This term is typically used in a military context, as most civilians have limited need for an extensive facility for storing munitions. Most ammunition dumps are designed to be temporary, and they are often installed in the field so that working members of the military have ready access to the supplies they need. A more permanent facility would be known as an armory.

Potentially explosive ammunition, such as bullets, can be stored in an ammunition dump.
Potentially explosive ammunition, such as bullets, can be stored in an ammunition dump.

By nature, an ammunition dump is a very hazardous place. Live munitions can present a threat when handled or stored improperly, and safety is of paramount importance at an ammunition dump. Typically the facility is designed to protect people from an explosion, should one occur, with thick walls, a buffer zone surrounding the area, and perimeter fencing which keeps unauthorized personnel out of the area. Guards are usually stationed at the entrances to check people as they enter and exit the ammunition dump.

An ammunition dump can become a military liability if unauthorized personnel manage to gain access and remove materials.
An ammunition dump can become a military liability if unauthorized personnel manage to gain access and remove materials.

Care is taken when transporting, moving, and handling the objects stored in an ammunition dump. Storage containers are carefully labeled with lists of their contents and any recommended precautions, such as limitation of exposure to heat and vibration. The contents are also regularly checked against an inventory, which usually includes a map to make things easy to find. Explosives in particular tend to become unstable over prolonged periods of time, so staff may periodically remove unstable material and destroy it for safety reasons.

In addition to the obvious explosives hazard, an ammunition dump also makes a prime target for enemy forces. By bombing an ammunition dump, the enemy can be assured that access to necessary munitions may be limited until a supply line can be established, and the enemy may also be able to degrade morale and kill or injure some of troops stationed around the area. An ammunition dump can also become a liability if territory is lost and the enemy gains control of it, or if unauthorized personnel manage to gain access and remove materials.

If a war zone is abandoned, the precise locations of ammunition dumps can be lost in the shuffle. This can mean that an ammunition dump languishes for months or years before abruptly exploding, especially if it was poorly constructed. In former war zones, explosions of former ammunition dumps are not uncommon, as a search of recent world news and “ammunition dump” will unfortunately reveal.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Inaventu

When I was in the Army, I was assigned to help remove an abandoned ammunition dump in the field. I wasn't ordered into the dump area itself, because I wasn't trained to handle live munitions. I handled communications while a team of specialists went into the camp and removed all of the unused mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades.

I have to say the happiest day of my life was the day the last crate left that fire base. These men knew exactly how to defuse those explosives, but I never got used to the idea of standing that close to a tent full of live ammunition.

AnswerMan

In just about every military-related action movie or video game, one of the primary targets is always an ammunition dump. If you can destroy the enemy's ammunition supply in place, then their ability to maintain the assault is heavily compromised. Communication systems are also popular targets, as well as transportation pools.

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