America's military installations, including their associated environment, have many purposes. They must sustain the regular forward and home station presence of U.S. forces as well as provide support in training and deployment to meet the Nation's need in periods of crisis, contingency, and combat.
The Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB), formerly called the Armed Forces Explosives Safety Board, was established in 1928 by the Seventieth Congress after a major disaster occurred at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Lake Denmark, New Jersey, in 1926. The accident virtually destroyed the depot, causing heavy damage to adjacent Picatinny Arsenal and the surrounding communities, killing 21 people, and seriously injuring 53 others. The monetary loss to the Navy alone was $84 million in 1926 dollars (mostly in consumed explosives). As a result of a full-scale Congressional investigation, Congress directed the establishment of a Board of Officers to provide oversight of the storage conditions of explosives on DoD facilities. The DDESB mission is to provide objective advice to the Secretary of Defense and Service Secretaries on matters concerning explosives safety and to prevent hazardous conditions to life and property on and off Department of Defense installations from the explosives and environmental effects of DoD-titled munitions.