Selsey RNLI lifeboats assist Royal Navy E.O.D. with ordnance dredged off Selsey
The Dutch registered 95 metre hopper dredger Melina had the ordnance on board approximately 10 miles south east of Selsey Bill.
The Selsey RNLI crew were paged at 12.30pm on Monday 22 February. The UK Coastguard had requested the lifeboat to assist the Royal Navy E.O.D. (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team) whilst they were dealing with the ordnance which would involve evacuating the crew of the dredger to the safety of the lifeboat. The E.O.D arrived at 12.45pm and were hoping to launch their rhib at the Selsey but this was not possible, so they went to Itchenor inside Chichester Harbour with the Selsey Coastguard team to launch.
At 1.30pm the lifeboats launched to rendezvous with the E.O.D. rhib but shortly after launching the visibility reduced dramatically so the Selsey Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) stayed close to station while the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) proceeded to Chichester harbour to meet and escort the Navy rhib which had limited navigation. The ALB and E.O.D. rhib headed towards the dredger and when passing close to Selsey were joined by the ILB with all boats arriving on scene with the dredger at 4.00pm. The weather on scene was wind south east force 1, sea state smooth in fog.
The E.O.D. team boarded the vessel and were shown to where the ordnance was located. After clearing the sand that was hiding most of the object they investigated and eventually declared it nonexplosive. The item was a 12” Solid Shot Projectile. The Officer in charge said it was a solid lump of lead that would be shot out of either a naval gun or shore battery WWII era.
By this time, the fog had lifted and the ILB was released to return to station arriving back at 5. 15pm.The E.O.D. made the object ready to lower into their rhib to take ashore. At 5.45pm with darkness falling the ALB and Navy rhib departed the dredger with the projectile bound for Itchenor. The quay at Itchenor was reached at 7.08pm and the E.O.D. prepared to recover their rhib.
The ALB departed at 7.10pm to return to station. The station was reached at 8.04pm and the ALB was recovered washed down, refuelled and made ready for service by 10.00pm. The ALB crew today were Coxswain Rob Archibald, Mechanic Phil Pitham, Max Gilligan, Craig Sergeant, Andy Lee and Tim Scott (trainee) ILB crew was Helmsman Harry Emmence, Neil Hopcraft and Neil Martin (trainee)
Key facts about the RNLI
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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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.