- A “curious visitor” washed ashore on a beach in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
- The object was deemed safe by local police, who called the Navy to pick it up.
- The barnacle-encrusted sphere is actually a simulated sea mine used to train mine hunters.
A suspicious object washed ashore on a beach in North Carolina, prompting local police to investigate. The police declared the object safe and contacted the Navy to haul it away. The "mine" is actually a Mark 49 mine warfare target, a simulated mine designed to train minesweepers and other mine-hunting teams.
The object, discovered on the beach on the state’s Outer Banks region near the town of Kill Devil Hills, looks exactly like a sea mine. Black, spherical, and several feet across, the object is encrusted with barnacles and marine algae. According to the Charlotte Observer, military objects periodically wash up on the state’s coastline.
The Kill Devil Hills police, in a statement released on Facebook, the object is located “just south of 5th Street, near the shore break.” The police say the object is harmless and that their best guess is that it is “some kind of anti-submarine target.” The police go on to state that the U.S. Navy had been contacted to remove the object from the beach.
The object features stenciled writing on the side, including the words, “Target, Mk. 49 Mod 1.” The U.S. Navy uses the Mark/Mk designation to refer to everything from handguns to practically anything weapons-related. This particular object is an Mk. 49 Mine Warfare Target. The Mk. 49 is one of 14 different types of inert targets designed to resemble a variety of different mine types.
The Mk. 49 resembles the type of sea mine that goes all the way back to World War I, a spherical mine that has finger-like contact probes surrounding it. A ship at sea would strike one of the probes with its hull, crushing the detonation mechanism and detonating an explosive charge. The Mk. 49 is a slightly simplified model, lacking the contact probes.
Despite its inert nature, the Mk. 49 does pose an indirect danger. Gawkers flocking to the beach could be unideal during an ongoing pandemic, prompting the Kill Devil Hills police to remind people to practice social distancing when taking a peek.
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