Fishermen operating off the Norfolk coast are “lucky to have survived” after a World War 2 bomb detonated and damaged their boat on 15th December 2020.

The seven-crew fishing vessel, Galway-Y-Mor, was hauling crab pots off the Norfolk coast when the item of ordnance exploded. It is thought that the crab pots disturbed the UXO, causing the detonation.

Five crew members were injured, including one left blinded in one eye as a result of the incident

Fishing boat in north sea detonates ww2 device

Devastating injuries

The vessel had set out from Grimsby in Lincolnshire and was pulling in a string of 100 crab pots about 22 miles off the coast of Cromer when the main line snagged. The skipper increased engine power in an attempt to free the line, when there was a deafening explosion which deformed the hull and flooded the engine room. The explosion also caused severe ‘shock damage’ to the interior of the boat.

The injured crew were rescued by a nearby safety boat sent from a wind farm four miles away. First aid was administered, and the crew were taken to hospital. Two of the crew members suffered broken bones, whilst another needed a plate in his skull and was blinded in one eye.

Map of location where vessel was hit

Air-dropped WW2 German bomb

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has said “Although the physical injuries were significant to five of the seven crew, they were fortunate not to be killed. The crew member working on the starboard side of the main deck could have been ejected overboard.”

They continued, “It is likely that Galwad-Y-Mor crew’s formal training, emergency drills, and combined length of service prepared them to deal with this unforeseen emergency scenario and enabled them to take swift action that, undoubtedly, save lives”.

Through tests on fragments recovered from the scene, experts believe that the item was an air-dropped WW2 German bomb.

Unexploded ordnance litters much of the UK, including the surrounding waters. Unexploded bombs are particularly dangerous because of the size of the explosive charge and their potential to cause damage.

Damage to fishing vessel

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