Blast that damaged crab boat in UK North Sea caused by WWII-era bomb

Galwad-Y-Mor, low in the water, after being abandoned by its crew (Photo: MAIB)
Galwad-Y-Mor, low in the water, after being abandoned by its crew (Photo: MAIB)

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said in a recently published report that the detonation of ordnance lying on the seabed off Norfolk had left a local crab fishing vessel severely damaged in late 2020.

At 11:22 local time on December 15, 2020, the crab potting vessel Galwad-Y-Mor was hauling pots in the North Sea approximately 22 nautical miles north-east of Cromer in Norfolk.

The MAIB said the vessel's crabbing gear disturbed a 250-kilogram World War II-era unexploded bomb, which detonated on the seabed below the vessel.

The ensuing explosion caused a shock wave that threw Galwad-Y-Mor about, resulting in significant injuries to five of the seven crew and major damage to the vessel's hull and machinery.

Despite their injuries, the crew were able to send a distress message, launch the liferaft, and board rescue boats that had been dispatched by a nearby offshore support vessel.

The injured crew were then transferred to hospital by helicopter and RNLI lifeboat. They were treated for head, back and knee injuries.

Galwad-Y-Mor was successfully salvaged and has been rebuilt.

The MAIB said Galwad-Y-Mor's crew could not have anticipated the fouling of a bomb in the potting string and the resulting explosion; their training, experience, and emergency preparedness improved their chances of survival.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World