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Cannon Accidentally Fires Real Ammo, Damages Bill of Rights

You may remember when I wrote about the tragedy of an endangered polar bear killed after live ammunition was “accidentally” fired by BP. A re-enactment of a sea battle between old tall ships off the coast of southern Orange County, California just went awry when one of them fired a real round.

Law enforcement officials said a crew member made an unfortunate mistake when the Amazing Grace cannon ran out of blanks that were to be fed into it and fired in the direction of crew members aboard the Bill of Rights, the other tall ship taking part in the reenactment.

The crew member mistakenly grabbed a box of buckshot ammunition. (The boxes apparently look similar, authorities said.)

The spray of pellets left two people aboard the Bill of Rights injured and stunned.

Can anyone answer why an historic tall ship with cannons is carrying actual buckshot ammunition? The LA Times doesn’t raise the obvious question.

“The plan is never to shoot live ammunition,” said Bentley Cavazzi, chief operations officer for the Ocean Institute, which has hosted the festival in Dana Point Harbor for 28 years.

Here’s what would make more sense, do not carry live ammunition if you never plan to shoot it. Then audit for compliance; confirm no ammo on board before taking passengers. And of course hold someone at the top level like the COO liable for mistakes.

When an historic ship absolutely must carry the live ammunition (there must be a reason somewhere) make sure it is clearly labeled and separate (e.g. requires authentication and authorization). Lock and label the ammo.

Note, the Amazing Grace is harbored in San Diego where another infamous mis-fire happened recently. Of course the ship’s cannon technology is too old to use the computer virus excuse.

Below is a video from last year of the re-enactment. Shots are fired at 1:55, when you can see the tiny/mock cannons (which use shotgun shells) on the Amazing Grace.

Posted in History, Sailing, Security.


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