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Operation CHASE

Operation CHASE (Cut Holes and Sink 'Em) was a United States Army program which involved the disposal of unwanted munitions into the Atlantic Ocean during the late 1960s and early 1970s.



The disposal program involved loading old munitions onto ships which were then slated to be scuttled once they were up to 250 miles off shore.[1][2] While most of the sinkings involved ships loaded with conventional weapons there were four which involved chemical weapons.[1] The disposal site was a three mile (5 km) area of the Atlantic Ocean between the coast of the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas.[3]

Chemical sinkings

The first chemical weapons disposed of via the program was in 1967 and designated CHASE 8. CHASE 8 disposed of mustard gas and GB-filled M-55 rockets. CHASE 11 occurred in June 1968 and disposed of GB and VX, all sealed in ton containers. CHASE 12, in August 1968, again disposed of mustard agent and the final mission to dispose of chemical weapons. The last of the CHASE operations, CHASE 10, occurred in August 1970. CHASE 10 dumped 3,000 tons of nerve agent filled rockets encased in concrete vaults.[1]

The public did not become aware of the operation until CHASE 10 was reported on by the mass media following a leak from the Pentagon to the office of U.S. Representative Richard McCarthy about the secret program in 1969.[3] Both American television and print media followed the story with heavy coverage. In 1970, 58 separate reports were aired on the three major network news programs on NBC, ABC and CBS concerning Operation CHASE. Similarly, The New York Times included Operation CHASE coverage in 42 separate issue during 1970, 21 of those were in the month of August.[3]


Operation CHASE was exposed to the public during a time when the Army was under increasing public criticism, especially the Army's Chemical Corps.[2] CHASE was one of the incidents which led to the near-disbanding of the Chemical Corps in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Concerns were raised over the programs effect on the ocean environment as well as the risk of chemical weapons washing up on shore.[2] The concerns led to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act in 1972, which prohibited future such missions.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Pike, John. "Operation CHASE", 27 April 2005, Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Mauroni, Al. "The US Army Chemical Corps: Past, Present, and Future", Army Historical Founation. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Wagner, Travis. "Hazardous Waste: Evolution of a National Environmental Problem", (Project Muse), Journal of Policy History, 16.4 (2004) pp. 306-331. Retrieved 26 November 2007.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Operation_CHASE". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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