Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Torpedo floated near shipping lane

The Mark 9 torpedo was spotted in the Channel five miles off Beachy Head

A 20ft-long torpedo has been discovered floating close to a busy cross-Channel shipping lane, lifeboat officials said.

Fisherman Peter Storey was on board his vessel, the Royal Sovereign, when he spotted the Mark 9 torpedo five miles off Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) later confirmed that the barnacle-covered torpedo was free from explosives and it was believed to have come from a wreck.

Officials at Dover Coastguard were alerted late on Tuesday afternoon amid concerns about its position just a few miles from the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry route.

Realising it was a potential explosive which posed a hazard to navigation, Mr Storey took pictures of the torpedo on his mobile phone and sent them to the Coastguard, who passed them on to the Royal Navy's bomb disposal team based at Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Mr Storey placed the torpedo under tow and brought it closer to shore before anchoring his boat around half a mile off Sovereign Harbour in Eastbourne.

Bomb disposal experts arrived on Wednesday morning to confirm it posed no risk and it was later brought in by them to the harbour.

Eastbourne RNLI coxswain Mark Sawyer said it was confirmed as a British Mk 9 device which had a stamp stating it was last checked and tested in 1955.

Mr Sawyer said: "The bomb disposal team arrived at first light and, once it was declared safe, brought it into Sovereign Harbour, and it now belongs to me.

"The bomb disposal team believe it was some sort of training torpedo. The people at Sovereign Harbour were quite keen to stress that it was safe when it was brought in."

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