What lies beneath the Felixstowe waves?

FROM bombs to beer cans - it all litters the seabed off the Suffolk coast.Experts say it is no wonder it took the Royal Navy so long to find the bomb they lost off Felixstowe with so many objects rattling around at the bottom of the sea.

FROM bombs to beer cans - it all litters the seabed off the Suffolk coast.

Experts say it is no wonder it took the Royal Navy so long to find the bomb they lost off Felixstowe with so many objects rattling around at the bottom of the sea.

Conservationists say rubbish washed up on beaches is a clear illustration of what lies on the seabed, while marine investigators say there are thousands of wrecks littering the UK's coastal waters.

When the Navy lost the 1,000lb German World War Two bomb washed up at Felixstowe as they towed it out to explode it, it meant a week-long search with divers having to examine dozens of items in case they were the missing weapon.

The bomb disposal squad brought in a £250,000 unmanned underwater vehicle called Remus, which covered an area 800m by 400m, going up and down grid lines, able to view 30 metres of seabed at a time and see right through the silt and mud.

It took photos of every object it found which were then downloaded onto a computer.

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Navy officers then had to spend hours examining them - and then diving in 12 metres of water to examine by touch, because of nil visibility, each one to see if it was the bomb.

Eventually, they found the weapon and blew it up, shaking homes across the town.

Felixstowe Coastguard Jo Arlow said the Navy divers had found a wide variety of items on the seabed.

“They were finding all sorts of things out there - bits of old pipe, beer cans, lumps of metal, anything which looked like it could be the bomb had to be examined,” he said.

“Some of this stuff has been down there years and it's a mystery how it gets there.”

Diver Stuart Bacon, director of the Suffolk Underwater Studies unit, said he wouldn't have been surprised if the divers had found another bomb - especially as there was a war-time explosives dump site off Harwich.

“We have found them many times. There is a tremendous amount of ordnance down there on the seabed around our coast - it is impossible to say how much,” he said.

Walker Christopher Barber recently found a sheep's horn on the shore, and nine-year-old John Hornsby found a horse's head.

There are around 300 wrecks dating back hundreds of years on the seabed along the east coast, and even containers lost from modern vessels containing various items, sometimes breaking open and spilling their cargoes.

The Marine Conservation Society said its annual beach cleans show a wide variety of items, from beer cans to oil drums, plastic cups to frisbees, fishing nets to planks, washed up.

Royal Navy bomb experts have dealt with two bombs found in Essex estuaries this week - a second world war horned mine at the entrance to the River Crouch, and a large unexploded shell on the mud flats at Westcliff-on-Sea.

What's the most unusual thing you have found at sea or washed up? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk