The Coast Guard is devising a plan to remove a cache of unexploded ammunition that may have been lying in the waters underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for decades.

Spokesman Charles Rowe declined to reveal its exact location, but said that “it is highly unlikely to pose an immediate threat to life or property.”

Rowe said the Coast Guard is working closely with the city Police Department, Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy to determine the safest way to remove the ammo from the water.

There will be a public notification once a retrieval process is set in place.

“It has been there for quite some time, but how long is pure speculation at this point,” Rowe said.

The ammo was discovered recently by commercial diver Gene Ritter, who believes it may be remnants from a barge accident that took place in 1954 — 10 years before the bridge opened.

Ritter first encountered a single shell in the area back in 1996 while searching for artifacts off the former Fort Lafayette, an island destroyed in the 1960s to make way for the construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

He went back two years ago and found four more shells encased in a crate. The weekend before last, he returned again for a more thorough search in a boat piloted by Capt. Bobby Hayes, a retired harbor unit lieutenant.

Ritter was stunned by his find: Roughly 2,000 live shells designed to shoot down airplanes and explode on contact.

“This has to be from the Bennington,” he said.

Ritter believes the ammunition has been in the water since March 4, 1954 when the USS Bennington unloaded 14,000 live rounds onto a barge at Fort Lafayette. The barge broke free of its mooring during a storm and dumped its cargo overboard before drifting toward the Rockaways.

Source: Stephanie Slepian for

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The Coast Guard is devising a plan to remove a cache of unexploded ammunition…