A British fishing crew had a lucky escape when their vessel hit a 250-kilogramme WWII bomb that detonated on the seabed and threw the boat around.
The explosion took place 22 nautical miles north of the coastal town of Cromer in the English county of Norfolk.
The government agency Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said on the UK gov website that the incident took place last month.
MAIB said on 20th January: “At 11.22 on 15 December 2020, the 15m crab potting vessel Galwad-Y-Mor (BRD 116) was hauling pots in the North Sea approximately 22 miles north-east of Cromer.
“The crabbing gear disturbed a 250kg unexploded WWII bomb, which detonated on the seabed below the vessel.”
The blast threw the vessel around, causing serious damage and injuring five crew members.
MAIB stated: “The ensuing explosion caused a shock wave that threw Galwad-Y-Mor about, resulting in significant injuries to five of the seven crew and major damage to the vessel’s hull and machinery.
“Despite their injuries, Galwad-Y-Mor’s crew were able to send a distress message, launch the liferaft, and board rescue boats that had been dispatched by a nearby offshore support vessel.
“The injured crew were transferred to hospital by helicopter and RNLI lifeboat. They were treated for head, back and knee injuries. Galwad Y Mor was successfully salvaged and has been rebuilt.”
MAIB continued: “Unexploded ordnance can be highly volatile even after many years of being submersed. In the event of encountering a UXO, seafarers are advised to follow the recommendations in MGN 323 (M+F) Explosives Picked Up At Sea.
“Galwad-Y-Mor’s crew could not have anticipated the fouling of a bomb in the potting string and the resulting explosion; their training, experience and emergency preparedness improved their chances of survival.
“Based on this accident’s circumstances, no action has been taken by external stakeholders and no recommendations made.”
The government agency added: “The aim of this report is to highlight the dangers that still exist with unexploded ordnance in the seas around the UK, and the actions to take should fisherman encounter any.
“In this case, the skipper and crew could not have foreseen the explosion and their level of preparedness to deal with such an emergency saved lives.”