An unexploded device found on the seabed near Il-Magħluq sandy beach in Marsaxlokk on Monday was a wartime British-built anti-submarine mortar, army sources have said.

Known as the Hedgehog, the mortar was produced from 1941 and was fired in batches of up to 24 ahead of ships chasing enemy submarines. Each mortar had a 16 kg Torpex charge.

The first ship to test and operate the Hedgehog system was the destroyer HMS Westcott in November 1941. The ship went on to play a prominent part in escort duties to aircraft carriers ferrying Spitfire aircraft to Malta and then several convoys including the Santa Marija convoy in August 1942. 

Hedgehog anti-submarine mortars mounted on HMS Westcott.Hedgehog anti-submarine mortars mounted on HMS Westcott.

It is not known how this particular mortar found its way in the inner part of Marsaxlokk and it most likely fell off some vessel rather than been fired.

The beach was evacuated while the device was safely removed by army bomb disposal experts on Monday morning. 




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