Rhode Island Fisherman Stumble on WWII Bomb Tangled in Fishing Net

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Tina Terras & Michael Walter

Fishing crews went back in time after capturing a depth charge dating back to World War II in their fishing nets.

Before the discovery, the crews were trolling roughly four miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, on Tuesday. However, they had no idea that the nets they were dragging would capture the decades-old explosive item later that day.

Once the anglers discovered the bomb, the crew contacted the U.S. Coast Guard. After, the Coast Guard requested assistance from the U.S. Navy.

According to a spokesperson for the Navy, the Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 out of Newport, Rhode Island, responded to the scene. Once there, they took possession of the explosive. They also identified it as a World War II MK6 depth charge.

Then, on Wednesday morning, the EODMU detonated the 520-pound depth charge underwater. They were about a mile from the coast. The explosive also contained 267 pounds of TNT.

In addition, crews from the Coast Guard crews assisted the operation by maintaining a one-mile perimeter from the area.

“The safety of people and the environment are our top priority in these situations,” the spokesperson said. “For that reason, the U.S. Navy coordinated detonation with the State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and NOAA to ensure the safety of people and the surrounding environment, including the wildlife.”

Fishing crews find explosives at the sight of former WWII battle

A Navy spokesperson later said that the area the fishing vessel was trolling was the site of a WWII battle. According to reports, that particular battle occurred on May 6, 1945, off Point Judith, Rhode Island, just down the coast from Narragansett.

During the battle, a U.S. Navy destroyer and a U.S. Coast Guard Frigate American fighters sank German U-boat 853. U.S. forces also dropped 195 depth charges into the water to take down the German sub.

“When individuals encounter what may be ordnance, they should not move or touch any possible ordnance,” the Navy spokesperson said. “For a maritime-related discovery, as was the case with the anglers, calling the U.S. Coast Guard is paramount. If ordnance is discovered on land or a beach, people should immediately notify their local law enforcement.”

However, this is not the first time people have discovered WWII explosives near this location in Rhode Island.

In August, a Danish company, Ørsted, was surveying the underwater landscape to build wind turbines when it stumbled upon 11 unexploded military munitions in Narragansett Bay.

“Since these surveys took place near historical defense sites, the finding of these confirmed UXOs wasn’t unusual,” a spokesperson for Ørsted said at the time.

Ørsted later said in a statement on Wednesday that there is no link between the recent explosive finding and its offshore wind work.