Vandals sink key navigation buoy near Block Island

1000w Q95

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(BOSTON) — The crew of Coast Guard cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes Monday near Block Island, R.I.

The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy No. 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.

Due to the extensive damage, this buoy was taken out of service for repairs. This aid to navigation (ATON) marks a large rock 3 feet below the water's surface. Ferries transit this route frequently and provide critical supplies to Block Island. Buoy No. 7 is supposed to be a key navigational tool for mariners and it turned into a navigational hazard.

This is the second aid discovered with bullet holes within a week.

"While it may be fun to use a buoy for target practice, it is a federal crime," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Chase, the U.S. Coast Guard officer in charge of aids to navigation in the vicinity of Block Island. "Buoy No. 7 became a navigational hazard that could have easily been struck by a vessel and seriously injured or killed mariners."

Damaging or tampering with federal aids to navigation is a crime and the maximum penalties upon conviction are up to 20 years of imprisonment and as much as $2,500 fine per day for each violation.

Contact the North Shoreham Police Department at (401) 466-3220 or the Coast Guard at (401) 435-2351 with any information about this crime.

Coast Guard cutter Ida Lewis is a 175-foot buoy tender home-ported in Newport, R.I. The crew services more than 200 buoys annually in southeastern New England.

By Professional Mariner Staff