Hurricane Bawbag sparks surge in bomb scares
THE man in charge of Scotland’s bomb squad has blamed recent stormy weather for a big increase in the number of explosives washed up on the shores.
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Stockton, who is in charge of the Northern Diving Group, said his team has seen a surge of reports on the coastline between Montrose, Angus, and Tentsmuir, Fife.
He said that some of the items, which varied in shape and size, were harmless but that others had proved to be “live” and required the attention of Royal Navy Explosive Ordinance (EOD) teams.
“The recent weather which has battered Scotland has meant especially bad sea conditions and that has led to a lot of sand movement beneath the waves,” he said.
“This, in turn, leads to these devices washing up onto the beach and being found by walkers.
“It seems there has also been more people out and about on the beaches, which has meant more people spotting these items, so consequently we are getting more reports of ordinance appearances.”
In the past fortnight, EOD teams have been called out to Montrose twice to deal with objects on the town’s beach.
The latest call came in at 9.30am on Sunday, while the previous week experts destroyed a suspicious device, which turned out to be an old smoke flare used by shipping firms.
Tentsmuir Forest, which is popular with dog walkers and families, has been the focus of a number of call outs.
In the last three months three mortar shells have been uncovered and Scottish Natural Heritage, which runs the nature reserve, is considering putting up warning signs in the area.
Experts are warning the public not to touch or approach anything they suspect to be an explosive.
The first major storm for recent weeks to hit Scotland struck on December 8 and was quickly dubbed Hurricane Bawbag by Twitter users. A second spell of wild weather became known as Cyclone Bampot.
The British coastline was used for practice bombing missions during the Second World War and many bombs can still be found on beaches.
In 1997 the Ministry of Defence conducted a sweep of an area called Lunan Bay, between Montrose and Arbroath.
Of 3520 bombs discovered, 420 were found to be live. Experts destroyed the devices, which were in varying condition, in controlled explosions.
Many of the devices were 10lb practice bombs used by the RAF when they used the area as a range – and a third of the devices were found within a 50-metre section.
The Northern Diving Group, based at Faslane, attend call outs across the country.
The Royal Navy awarded them Diving Unit Effectiveness trophy after they dealt with 120 call-outs.
The same 34-man team was called out to deal with the alleged letter bomb attacks on Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other high-profile football fans.
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