News Articles

Dutch fishermen often haul up unexploded ammunition

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SCHEVENINGEN The Dutch are reminded continually of World War II when reports about the after effects make the news. As part of the publicity on recent naval exercises, Dutch fishermen were urgently reminded to report every ammunition catch they make while fishing on the North Sea. The number of such reports is finally declining again after a peak in 2005, following the deadly explosion on April 6 that year aboard an Ouddorp trawler. The incident, which took the lives of three fishermen, occurred when an American-made 500-pounder bomb hit the deck of the vessel with too much force. The fishing crews since then have taken more caution when landing their nets on the deck so that unexploded ammunition does not go off on impact. The number of ammunition reports increased to 333 in 2005 but dropped to 193 the following year. In 2007 sightings declined further to 138. The fishermen can dump the ammunition back into the sea, preferably marked with an identifier so Dutch minesweepers can locate it quicker and destroy it. The North Sea is literally an ammunition dump since numerous warplanes returning from unfinished sorties were required to dump their bomb load to reduce accident risks when landing at their base. Only a tenth of all reports involve sea mines, that are mostly German made.