Tanker Spears Unexploded Test Torpedo With Anchor
Royal Navy divers have destroyed a test torpedo that was speared by the anchor of a product tanker off Portland, UK. The historic ordnance had been pierced by the fluke of the anchor as it landed on the seabed, and had then been dragged up from a depth of about 50 feet.
Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 were dispatched to the scene and they immediately evacuated the majority of the crew. Six mariners, including the master, stayed on board in readiness to fight any fires that could have broken out.
“The tanker was carrying approximately 1000 tonnes of fuel or oil,” said the officer in charge of the Southern Diving Unit, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Campbell. “The fuel cargo was pumped into the aftermost possible tanks to reduce the effects of any explosion, and fire hoses were charged and ready to deploy if needed. We directed the ship to use her other anchor to steady her, before lowering the fouled anchor, and the torpedo, to several metres below the waterline.”
The Royal Navy divers had to approach the torpedo and use their expertise to remove it. "EOD Operators are obliged to treat these items as ‘live’ and hazardous until it can be disproved otherwise,” said Lt Cdr Campbell. “The entire job was conducted in this way. Working parts inside the torpedo could be seen from where the anchor fluke had ruptured it.”
Once the torpedo was released the team then took it to a safe area, lowered it to the seabed and destroyed it. The task took around seven hours from start to finish – and the ship was released at around 1700 hours the same day.
“They were thoroughly relieved to be separated from their unwelcome burden,” said Lieutenant Commander Campbell.
The torpedo was a British-made device but was in an extremely corroded state. It is believed to have come from a test range that existed near Portland until the 1980s, and had so far remained undetected. While they vary in the type of hazard they represent, test torpedoes can contain highly flammable propellant.
This article appears courtesy of Royal Navy News and may be found in its original form here.