Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat helps Navy with unexploded wartime shells
In testing sea conditions a Suffolk RNLI lifeboat crew was called to help Royal Navy divers to deal with two wartime projectiles that had been brought up from the seabed by a dredger
Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat crew were called on Saturday 13 February to escort a team of Royal Navy divers in a rib to deal with two wartime shells that had come up with sand and silt into a dredger working off the east coast
With a south easterly wind blowing at near gale force 7, temperatures just above freezing and seas with a two – three metre swell, the vessels set out in the early evening to rendezvous with the dredger - but the conditions proved too dangerous for the rib and a second attempt was planned the following day
Lowestoft Lifeboat Coxswain John Fox said, “On Sunday morning the weather and sea conditions had not improved so we decided to take the two navy divers to the dredger in our lifeboat ‘Patsy Knight’.
The 100 metre long Belgium registered Hopper Dredger had travelled from Ijmuiden in the Netherlands to work in a position 42 miles off the east coast when they realised that they had brought up some wartime ordnance
Royal Navy diver Bryant said “We travelled from our base at the Royal Navy Southern Diving Unit Two in Portsmouth after the UK Coastguard alerted us to the situation.
The crew of Lowestoft Lifeboat kindly took myself and a colleague to the dredger which had moved to a position seven miles due east of Lowestoft. Once on board the dredger we were shown the two projectiles that were four inches in diameter and 16 inches long. They were on top of sand in the main hopper bin and appeared to be in poor condition.
We decided to put them into sand bags with extra sand to give weight and lowered to the seabed with a marker attached. We recorded the position and intend to come back at a later date to deal with them.”
The dredger was then able to continue its journey to Amsterdam and Lowestoft lifeboat, with its Royal Navy passengers, returned to its moorings
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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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