Norfolk, England Fishermen hauling in their equipment reportedly set off a WWII bomb on the seabed, causing an explosion that almost sank the boat and injuring five crew members, according to a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report just released. The report details the accident which took place just over a year ago off the coast of Norfolk.
The vessel was hauling in crab pots when it disturbed the 250-kg bomb, triggering shock waves that tossed the boat, wounding five of the seven crew members. Injuries sustained included significant head, back and knee injuries, and the boat's hull and machinery were badly damaged.
Following the explosion, the crew was able to send out a distress message and launch the life raft. They were picked up by rescue boats sent from a nearby support vessel.
The report goes on to state that the boat was not directly hit by fragments of the bomb. It states, "It is likely that direct exposure to the full detonation of ordnance, containing 123kg explosive charge, would have blown the vessel apart. Although the physical injuries were significant to five of the seven crew, they were fortunate not to be killed."
The report also identifies two key safety issues for others to learn from. One being that UXO remain highly volatile even after many years underwater. The second is that the boat's crew could not have anticipated disturbing the bomb with the strings connected to the crab pots. The training, experience and emergency preparedness of the crew improved their chances of survival.
The MAIB report concluded, "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."