Trawler nets suspected torpedo in Forth –

Trawler nets suspected torpedo in Forth Published:  28 April, 2011

A ROYAL Navy bomb disposal unit is carrying out a controlled explosion on a suspected torpedo caught in the nets of a fishing boat in the Firth of Forth yesterday.

The crew of the prawn vessel Sea Spray made their surprise discovery while hauling in their nets. They gently lowered it back into the water before tying it to the boat. Her skipper was told to tow the device to deep water off Port Seton and drop it on the sea bed for the Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal team to examine it. The trawler crew later admitted that the find came as a bit of a shock.

Forth Coastguard said it was probable that the device was a new torpedo, rather than a relic left over from the Second World War, but added there was no cause for alarm.

Lieutenant John Keenan later told STV that they had checked to make sure there were no power cables or other infrastructure underwater and there was no danger to the public.

He said: “There’s not going to be any windows broken or anything like that. It’s going to be quite safe; it’s in deep enough water that a lot of the energy will be absorbed by the water. We’ve done it before and we have standard procedure – we just place the counter-charge, light the fuse and run away.”

Mines and other naval ordnance remain a hazard for fishing boats in Northern European waters.  The seas around most ports and harbours were heavily mined during the war to prevent submarines from entering. In many cases the explosives from wartime mines will have degraded, but they can remain a danger.

Iceland’s coastguards said recently that both the German and allied navies laid tens of thousands of mines around the country’s coastline, an area that is heavily fished, adding they remained a hazard for trawlers.