Selsey Lifeboat Station - Launches

22nd February 2021

Selsey RNLI Lifeboats Assist Royal Navy E.O.D. with Ordnance Dredged up Off Selsey

EOD gathering Dredger Melina
EOD gathering Dredger Melina

The Dutch registered 95-metre hopper dredger, 'Melina', had the ordnance on board approximately 10 miles south-east of Selsey Bill.

The Selsey RNLI crew were paged at 12.30 p.m. on Monday 22nd February. The UK Coastguard had requested that the Lifeboat launched to assist the Royal Navy E.O.D. (Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team) whilst they were dealing with the ordnance which would involve evacuating the crew of the dredger to the safety of the Lifeboat. The E.O.D arrived at 12.45 p.m. and were hoping to launch their Rhib at Selsey but this was not possible so they went to Itchenor inside Chichester Harbour, with the Selsey Coastguard team, to launch.

At 1.30 p.m. both Lifeboats launched to rendezvous with the E.O.D. Rhib but, shortly after launching, the visibility reduced dramatically and so the Selsey inshore Lifeboat (ILB) stayed close to station while the all-weather Lifeboat (ALB) proceeded to Chichester Harbour to meet and escort the Navy Rhib which had limited navigation. The ALB and E.O.D. Rhib headed towards the dredger and, when passing close to Selsey, were joined by the ILB with all boats arriving on scene with the dredger at 4.00 p.m. The weather on scene was wind south-east force 1, sea state smooth in fog.

The E.O.D. team boarded the vessel and were shown to where the ordnance was located. After clearing the sand that was hiding most of the object they investigated and eventually declared it nonexplosive. The item was a 12" Solid Shot Projectile. The Officer in charge said it was a solid lump of lead that would be shot out of either a naval gun or shore battery, WWII era.

By this time, the fog had lifted and the ILB was released to return to station arriving back at 5.15pm. The E.O.D. made the object ready to lower into their Rhib to take ashore. At 5.45 p.m., with darkness falling, the ALB and Navy Rhib departed the dredger with the projectile, bound for Itchenor. The quay at Itchenor was reached at 7.08 p.m. and the E.O.D. prepared to recover their Rhib.

The ALB departed at 7.10 p.m. to return to station. The station was reached at 8.04 p.m. and the ALB was recovered, washed down, refuelled, and made ready for service by 10.00 p.m.

ALB CREW: Rob Archibald (Coxswain), Phil Pitham (Mechanic), Max Gilligan, Craig Sergeant, Andy Lee and Tim Scott (trainee).

ILB CREW: Harry Emmence (Helmsman), Neil Hopcraft and Neil Martin (trainee).