Navy bomb squad blow up dangerous flare found on beach

It was a controlled explosion

Bomb disposal experts have safely detonated a phosphorous flare that was found on Birling Gap beach near Beachy Head.


The beach was evacuated upon discovery of the device on Tuesday 17th November, but safe detonation had to wait until the next day’s low tide.

Archaeologists, who discovered the flare while excavating a Bronze Age well shaft, were the first to alert the coastguard. The flare was below the high water mark so it was not an issue for the police, instead the Royal Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad was called.


A team from the Southern Diving Squad Two from the Royal Navy blew up the extremely dangerous phosphorus flare in a controlled explosion on the beach. The device could have caused serious injury to anyone handling it, as the phosphorous inside burns at almost 900°C and can rip through human flesh. Scarily, using water to treat the phosphorous burns only makes them worse.

Speaking toThe Argus, a spokeswoman for the navy said: “[the Diving Squad] arrived at low water…and liaised with the coastguard.

“The item they needed to deal with was one M25 phosphorous marine marker.

“This is quite a modern thing, not a historical device, it’s used by search and rescue teams.

“Due to the nature of what it was they had to destroy it in situ on the beach to make it safe.”

She went on to explain that the flare was most likely washed ashore due to recent stormy weather. The device is designed to sink, but rough seas may have caused it to be thrown up from the sea floor. This is the second flare to be found in 10 days, as a similar one was discovered on a Rottingdean beach on Sunday November 8th.

The UK Coastguard has advised all members of the public to stay away from flares washed up on beaches, and not to pick them up. If you’re out and about on the seafront and spot a metallic tube, about 16 inches long and three inches in diameter, be careful.