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BombRisk Update - A Tribute To A Hero

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In this month’s BombRisk Update, we talk about a fishing find, a controversial cruise, and a hairy hero.

Cautionary estuary

Today’s BombRisk Update contains a story about fishing.  Frequent BombRisk readers will assume the story’s about magnet fishing – but not this time! Today it's all about lave net fishing.

Before you ask, no, BombRisk is not slowly turning into a fishing website – fishermen (and fisherwomen) just frequently discover unexploded ordnance (UXO). But why? Because UXO can be found anywhere.

Let’s begin with a little history lesson: what is lave net fishing?

A lave net consists of a Y shaped structure with a loose net hung between the two arms (also known as rimes). It is a traditional method of fishing that has existed since the 1700s, primarily practiced in the Severn Estuary where it’s used to catch salmon.

Few still practice lave net fishing, yet many gather to watch the annual demonstrations at the Black Rock Picnic Site in Monmouthshire. Martin Morgan is one of the fishermen keeping the tradition alive.

Lave net fishing seldom catches salmon anymore due to falling salmon stock, however, Martin still finds plenty of interesting objects such as auroch horns and ancient fishing traps.  Martin’s most shocking (yet not entirely surprising) find was a 1ft long WWII bomb.

Martin decided not to report the bomb to the coastguard, apparently due to its remote location. However, we (the professionals at BombRisk), recommend you ALWAYS report any UXO you discover – either to the police or to the coast guard.

Severn to Thames - a cruise that does not amuse

Moving on from the Severn Estuary, let’s talk about the Thames Estuary - and specifically the SS Richard Montgomery.

The SS Richard Montgomery was a U.S. WWII ship that sunk in the Thames Estuary on the 20th of August 1944.  At the time, the SS Richard Montgomery (hereby referred to as the ‘SS Monty’) was carrying over 1,400 tonnes of explosive ordnance (EO).

Since then, the SS Monty has left experts stumped: should they attempt to clear it, or should they leave it well alone?  Unfortunately, as we know, UXO becomes increasingly volatile and unstable over time.  If SS Monty’s UXO detonates, it could cause one of the most devastating non-nuclear peace-time explosions ever seen.

It is for this reason that an exclusion zone has been set up around the SS Monty, prohibiting sea vessels from approaching it.  The SS Monty’s masts, visible above the tide, are set to be removed later this year. Due to this, some individuals are taking boat trips to view the masts.

Wait – what!?

Yes, you read that correctly – people are sailing near the SS Monty’s exclusion zone to view the masts before they are removed – this is a ship loaded with 1,400 tonnes of EXPLOSIVES...

We, at BombRisk, have one piece of advice for you: do NOT do that.  There are binoculars you can use on Sheerness beach, y’know!?

A tribute to a hero

We wish to end this BombRisk Update by paying our respects to a hero – Magawa.

Magawa was a landmine-sniffing rat that was awarded the PDSA medal for gallantry. He located over 100 landmines and cleared 141,000m2  of land during his five year career in Cambodia.

Magawa saved lives and freed communities from the fear of landmines.  Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 8 on the 11th of January 2022.

Magawa’s efforts shall not be forgotten – he truly was a hero.

Until next time

As we conclude this BombRisk Update, it is important to remember that UXO can be found all across the UK. Do you have an upcoming construction project that requires intrusive works?  It is vital that you research the history of your site and mitigate the explosive risk early on with a desktop threat assessment.

Contact us today for more information.

Header photo by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay 

Published by SafeLane Global on