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Crabber Explosion – Recovered to Grimsby Shipyard Services Ltd

SEVEN crab fishermen were injured when their boat was blasted out of the water by a suspected World War Two mine.

The seven crew members of the 42ft boat Galwad-Y-Mor suffered life- changing injuries in the explosion 25 miles north of Cromer, Norfolk.

The two British and five Latvian crew were hauling in a line of crab pots when they are believed to have dredged up the unexploded munition.

The mine or bomb exploded under the water, propelling the boat out of the sea, before it smashed back down again.

The blast took place mid December 2020, wrecking the wheelhouse and rupturing the hull - causing water to flood into the engine room.

A liferaft was launched as the boat began sinking in the water, but the injured crew ended up being picked up the offshore support vessel Esvagt Njord.

Three of the most seriously injured were airlifted to Hull by a Coastguard rescue helicopter and the other four were taken back to shore by the Cromer lifeboat.

The four who arrived back in Cromer were treated by paramedics before being taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Old Munitions on Seabed

A preliminary report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: “The explosion was in the water and external to the vessel. There was nothing that the crew could have done to prevent the accident. The source of the explosion has not been determined, but it was possible that old munitions on the seabed were disturbed as the vessel hauled its pots.”

The report said all crew members suffered injuries, some of them life-changing in the accident which happened in “potting fishing grounds east of the Wash”. It did not disclose the age of the munitions suspected of causing the blast or whether they were German or British.

It added: “The crew was in the process of hauling in a string of crab pots; the skipper was in the wheelhouse with other crew members below decks working the pots. The hauler was being used to heave in the back rope, and the crew had let the skipper know that there was a lot of tension on the line, when there was an unexpected explosion.”

As he became aware that other crew members had been badly injured and that the engine room was flooding, the skipper ordered the crew to abandon ship.”

Galwad-Y-Mor was thrown up from the sea surface, then landed heavily back down; all propulsion and electrical

power was immediately lost. The skipper was injured and dazed, but conscious, and saw that the wheelhouse had been completely wrecked. The abandoned 13-year-old boat which had settled low in the water was towed by the tug GPS Avenger to its home at Grimsby Shipyard Services Ltd located in Port of Grimsby where it was lifted out of the water.

The report said MAIB inspectors found extensive shell plating indentations and ruptures to the hull, the main engine displaced from its bedplate, and warping of decks.

It added: “Although extensively damaged and flooded, it is almost certain that Galwad-Y-Mor stayed afloat because the bulkheads either side of the engine room maintained their watertight integrity, containing the flood.”

The MAIB said it had notified the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Receiver of Wreck and the Ministry of Defence and a full investigation was ongoing.


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