Yachtsmen are raising the alarm over what they believe is an unexploded Second World War bomb in Pula harbour in Croatia.
The Cruising Association has added a note to the overview page for Pula on the CA’s Captain’s Mate app, saying: ‘Unexploded WW2 ordnance was located at N 44 degrees 52.815 E 13 degrees 50.640 June 2023. It is marked with surface buoyage awaiting safe disposal by the relevant authorities.’
The CA understands authorities plan to remove the bomb, and according to reports, this will be undertaken during the winter months when the waters will be clearer. Professor Dr. Daniel Steenstra and his wife, Jane, anchored in June in North Bay, Pula, aboard their yacht Benimora. It is a designated anchorage area as per official port authority and navigation charts.
The following morning their anchor got entangled with a large cylindrical object rising from the seabed, approximately 2m in diameter. A local diver found it was a suspected Second World War bomb and they decided to abandon their anchor.
Dr. Steenstra reported the hazardous discovery to local police and military forces, but no action was taken, he said.
‘We feel very lucky. We lost a brand new anchor but if that bomb had gone off whilst we attempted to retrieve the anchor, we might not be around to tell the tale,’ Dr. Steenstra said in a statement. ‘It is frankly unbelievable that the Croatian authorities choose to ignore any responsibility and have decided to put more boaters in harm’s way and continue to make them pay.
‘It is imperative that the Croatian authorities take swift measures to ensure the safety of sailors, conduct thorough surveys of their waters, and eliminate any potential dangers to protect both sailors and their investments.’
Yachting Monthly contacted the Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure for comment, but there was no response at the time of going to press.
Research shows the North Bay area of Pula had endured heavy bombing by the allies during the Second World War as it was a German submarine base and a significant Adriatic port.
Remnants of sunken naval ships from an Italian raid on the Austro-Hungarian fleet at the end of the First World War have left over 3,000 tonnes of steel at the bottom of Pula port, including the wreck of the legendary Dreadnought Viribus Unitis, once the largest ship in the Austro-Hungarian Navy fleet. The seabed is also covered with enormous anchor blocks and parts of ships from the Uljanik shipyard in Pula, founded in 1856 as a shipyard of the Austro-Hungarian navy. In the period from 1947 to 1998, Uljanik delivered 194 new-built ships.
In March, Croatian authorities destroyed a huge Second World War anti-ship mine that was buried in the seabed near the Adriatic port of Rijeka. A video released by the Croatian ministry of internal affairs showed the huge explosion sending water hundreds of feet into the air.
Officials said that the mine, which was first discovered in June 2022, was positioned too close to the city and that it had to be moved further away for the controlled detonation, which used 1,500lbs of explosives.
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