Our team are regularly asked at events who to call in the event of someone finding legacy military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic (flare) on the beach or in the sea.  Amongst some of the HM Coastguard’s multifaceted roles is the safety of everybody in a vessel in UK waters and the environmental safety of UK coast and waters.  Part of these roles include investigating objects which have been washed up onto the coastline which may present a danger to coastal users.  During a spate of bad weather legacy military ordnance is often washed up onto our beaches. From time to time discarded pyrotechnic’s are also discovered.

HM Coastguard advice:

  • In all cases if you ever come across something at the coast or sea which you believe could be military ordnance or a marine pyrotechnic dial ‘999’ straight away and ask for the Coastguard
  • Move away to a place of safety
  • Never touch the item
  • Warn others of the possible danger
  • Always call for help if you are in any doubt whatsoever

The Coastguard Operations Centre will then task one of their 24/7 on-call Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT’s) to investigate the find.  Once on scene they will undertake an examination of the item to ascertain if it is either military ordnance or a discarded pyrotechnic.  If it is a pyrotechnic the item will be removed and transported for safe disposal.

Flares found on the beach – Picture credit: Adrossan Coastguard

If the CRT believe it is military ordnance they will request the attendance of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the British Army or Royal Navy dependant on where the find is located.   Whilst setting up a cordon to ensure public safety awaiting the arrival of the military team.

Picture credit: HM Coastguard Margate

The military EOD team will conduct a thorough risk assessment and detailed examination of the item. The operator will either remove the item back to their base for safe disposal or carry out a controlled explosion at the scene with a safe cordon in place. Police and other other ‘blue light services’ may also be called upon to assist if required.

Further reading:

Controlled explosion for device washed up on Studland Beach

Selsey Coastguard controlled explosion on Medmerry Beach

HM Coastguard roles and responsibilities

Adrossan Coastguard WordPress – blog

How to dispose of time expired pyrotechnic’s (flares) – Thanet CS Team

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard

Margate, Greenock and Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue teams for pictures


Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.